Cassia Cinnamon, or cinnamomum cassia, is a tree variety from the cinnamomum family. It is the bark of the cassia cinnamon tree, an evergreen tree originating in China. After the tree's bark is harvested, it is then dried and when the outer layer is removed the inner layer curls up into a roll. After drying is complete, the bark is ground into a fine powder.
When compared to other varieties of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon has a bolder flavor and thicker bark, and is the most common form of cinnamon sold in the United States today.
Cassia cinnamon comes with its health benefits and has been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. It was thought to help soothe gastrointestinal distress, improve the course of the common cold, aid in menstrual cramps and even stimulate the appetite. Although many of these have not been corroborated scientifically, there have been studies to date that highlight the beneficial effects of cassia cinnamon.
Preliminary, and sometimes conflicting, research suggests that cinnamon may improve blood glucose levels in those with diabetes and possibly reduce total cholesterol. However, cinnamon contains coumarin, a compound that has been shown to cause liver damage in high quantities. For that reason, it is recommended that we use cinnamon in moderate quantities as a spice rather than in large doses for medicinal use.
Ground cinnamon in the powdered form is extremely versatile and can be added to a wide variety of dishes ranging from sweet to savory. It is very commonly used in baked goods to elevate the warmth in the finished product. Cinnamon is most commonly used during holiday time in North America. It is not as commonly used in savory dishes as it lends a subtle sweetness to the meal. Ground cinnamon combines well with other spices in both sweet and savory dishes and pairs well with meats, soups, and stews.