Difference Between Cinnamon and Cassia

Spices are an indispensable part of every dish in many countries across the world. Thus, they are in heavy demand today. With such high demand, there has been an emergence of different types of spices. Cinnamon and cassia are two popular condiments available in the consumer market. While they may seem similar, there are comparable differences in the flavour, quality, costs, uses, and place of origin of cinnamon and cassia. 

Cinnamon vs Cassia 

The main difference between cinnamon and cassia is that cinnamon is created from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. On the other hand, cassia is produced from an evergreen tree that is found in Southern China. In addition, cinnamon is a superior quality spice whereas cassia is a relatively cheaper quality condiment. 

Cinnamon and Cassia

Cinnamon is a spice that enjoys a worldwide consumer market. However, being on the expensive side, cinnamon may not be a budget-friendly choice for some consumers. Cinnamon usually offers a mild and aromatic taste. As a result, it is a must-have in many desserts, especially in India. Other practical applications of cinnamon are in breakfast cereals. traditional foods, tea, and snack foods. 

Cassia is a variant of cinnamon that originated from Southern China. The texture of cassia is relatively rough and the colour is usually reddish-brown. The quality of cassia is usually inferior to that of cinnamon and consequently, it is available at a lower price. The most popular use of cassia is in Chinese meat recipes. However, cassia is not ideal for daily use due to the presence of high proportions of coumarin. 

Comparison Table Between Cinnamon and Cassia 

Parameters of ComparisonCinnamon Cassia
Flavor Cinnamon usually has a sweet flavour.Cassia has a more bitter flavour. 
Tone The tone of cinnamon is relatively warmer than cassia. The colour of cassia is reddish-brown. 
Relationship Cinnamon has two types- cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia is originally Chinese cinnamon.
Origin Cinnamon originates from Southern India and Sri Lanka. Cassia originates from Southern China. 
Texture Cinnamon is a thin condiment. Cassia is a thick condiment. 

What is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice that has a practical application as a flavouring condiment as well as a flavouring agent in several dishes. Cinnamon is sourced from the inner bark of trees, usually in Southern India or Sri Lanka. The main component of cinnamon is cinnamaldehyde which is the primary reason behind the smell and flavour of the spice. 

Nutritionally, the composition of cinnamon consists of 81% of carbohydrates, 11% of water, 4% of protein, and 1% of fat. There are several commercial and everyday uses of cinnamon. Many Mexican chocolates consist of cinnamon as a raw material. Savoury dishes such as chicken and lamb often use cinnamon as a spice to give a delightful taste. 

Cinnamon is also used in Turkey and Portugal in several sweet and savoury food items. Christmas drinks such as eggnogs may consist of cinnamon as an ingredient. In India, cinnamon is an indelible part of the recipes of tea, pickles, and sweet dishes. In addition, Persians often use cinnamon to enhance the flavour of their cuisines. 

The countries popular for cinnamon production include China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Medically, cinnamon is considered to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. The tree that provides cinnamon can grow up to 60 feet. Cinnamon consists of high levels of calcium and fibre that make it ideal for maintaining colon health. Therefore, cinnamon offers several medical benefits.  

What is Cassia?

Cassia refers to Chinese cinnamon. Cassia consists of the aromatic bark of the plant called Cinnamomum cassia. The composition of cassia includes 1 to 2 per cent of cassia oil which is a volatile component. The origin of cassia traces back to Southern China. The colour of cassia is usually dark brown and red. The sticks of cassia are thicker as compared to regular cinnamon. 

Cassia cinnamon is composed of the dry barks of evergreen trees that are found in southeastern Asia. There are several medical reasons for the consumption of cassia. People may choose to take cassia for ailments like diabetes, menstrual problems, preventing nausea, muscle and stomach spasms, common cold and loss of appetite. 

Some people may consumer cassia to cure problems like bed-wetting, menopausal symptoms, hernia, and erectile dysfunction. In addition, some people use cassia cinnamon as a cream to repel mosquitoes. It also has a use as a flavouring agent in foods and beverages. The chemical composition of cassia includes hydroxy chalcone which has proved to improve insulin sensitivity. 

However, excessive consumption of anything, including cassia, is not suggested by researchers. The high concentration of coumarin in cassia may cause liver damage. It may increase susceptibility to mouth sores and the risk of cancer. In addition, increased amounts of cassia may result in breathing problems and side effects if combined with other medications. To conclude, only adequate amounts of cassia are ideal for consumption.  

Main Differences Between Cinnamon and Cassia 

  1. Cinnamon contains a lower amount of cinnamaldehyde as compared to cassia. 
  2. Cinnamon is relatively expensive as compared to cassia. 
  3. Cinnamon has fewer amounts of coumarin than cassia. Hence, it is ideal for regular use whereas cassia can be relatively more toxic for everyday use. 
  4. While cinnamon is a tan brown, cassia has a reddish-brown colour. 
  5. Cinnamon is less abundantly available as compared to cassia.  

Conclusion

Therefore, cinnamon and cassia vary on several grounds. While cinnamon is a spice of daily use, cassia can not be used daily, primarily because of its coumarin contents. Additionally, cinnamon has a relatively mild flavour. On the other hand, cassia has a strong and hotter flavour. Both cinnamon and cassia are a vital part of many sweet and savoury dishes. 

Cinnamon and cassia share some similarities too. Firstly, both originate from the inner bark of trees. Secondly, they are ideal spices for diabetic patients as cinnamon and cassia bring down blood sugar spikes. At the same time, they also increase insulin sensitivity. Nonetheless, the differences between cinnamon and cassia outweigh the similarities.  

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon#:~:text=Cinnamon%20is%20a%20spice%20obtained,snackfoods%2C%20tea%20and%20traditional%20foods
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamomum_cassia 
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