7 Facts about CINNAMON that you Need to Know

Did you know that cinnamon is the bark of a tree? Well, if you want to know more about this spice, this is the blog for you. Here you’ll learn what is cinnamon, what are its characteristics, its types, its benefits, how it is consumed, where it originated, how is its industry worldwide, and how it is cultivated. Read on to learn more about cinnamon.

What is cinnamon and what are its characteristics? 

Scientific nameCinnamomum Verum  
Common nameCinnamon.
Place of OriginSri Lanka and Southern China.
HabitatTropical-climate regions
DistributionMainly distributed in tropical countries.

Cinnamon is a spice that belongs to the Lauraceae family, characterized by trees and shrubs that keep their foliage throughout the year. Let’s take a look at the main morphological characteristics of cinnamon.

Morphological characteristics of cinnamon

Here are the main characteristics of the cinnamon tree:

  • Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the bark of a tree that can grow between 6 to 17 m; the bark is thick, rough and brown.
  • The foliage is pink during growth, and the leaves are soft and flexible; on the other hand, when the foliage is mature it becomes dark green, and the leaves become aromatic, thick, and brittle. The size and shape of the leaves vary greatly, they can measure between 5 to 15 cm long and between 5 to 10 cm wide.
  • The cinnamon tree flowers are small, measuring only 5 to 6 mm in diameter, and are grouped in clusters. They are yellow or white.
  • The fruit of this tree is an elongated berry that can reach up to 15 mm long, it is black or dark blue and has a single seed inside.

Fun fact:

The different parts of the tree are used in different products for commercialization, for example, the famous cinnamon is extracted from the bark of the tree, the fruits yield a medicinal oil and from the leaves, cinnamon oil is obtained.

What types of cinnamon are there? 

Cinnamon is made from the bark of more than 200 varieties of plants, but only two main varieties of cinnamon are the best known, Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon.

Ceylon cinnamon 

This variety is also called original cinnamon. This type of cinnamon is light brown, rough, and brittle and has a milder odor and flavor than cassia cinnamon. Normally, the sticks that are extracted from the bark are rolled and have thin layers, and their texture allows them to be easily crushed as with a coffee grinder.

Cassia cinnamon 

Cassia is the name given to several types of cinnamon that are usually used as a substitute for Ceylon cinnamon. Some of the varieties that group the cassia cinnamon are:

Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon 

This cinnamon is characterized by having a much stronger flavor and aroma than Ceylon cinnamon, in fact, it can be spicy. The bark is dark brown with reddish tones and is thick, so it is not easily crushed.

Korintje cinnamon 

This cinnamon is native to Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Among the known varieties, korintje cinnamon is the one with the least flavor and aroma, therefore, it is used in some parts of the world because it is cheaper.

Chinese cinnamon 

The bark of this cinnamon is thick, with an intense aroma and is characterized by a sweeter flavor, but it is worth noting that its quality is inferior to Ceylon cinnamon.  

What are the health benefits of cinnamon? 

Have you ever wondered what benefits you can get from consuming cinnamon?  If so, in this section we’ll answer your question. To begin with, let’s take a look at a nutritional table of cinnamon extracted from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2019).

Cinnamon nutritional profile 

Nutritional information about cinnamon 
Serving: 1 spoon of powdered cinnamon (7,8 g) 
Water0,827 grams
Energy19,3 calories
Protein0,311 grams
Total lipids (fats)0,097 grams
Carbohydrates6,29 grams
Fiber4,14 grams
Sugars0,169 grams
Sacarose0,002 grams
Glucose0,081 grams
Fructose0,087 grams
Lactose0 grams
Maltose0 grams
Galactose0 grams
Calcium78 milligrams
Iron0,649 milligrams
Magnesium4,68 milligrams
Phosphorus4,99 milligrams
Potassium33,6 milligrams
Sodium0,78 milligrams
Zinc0,143 milligrams
Copper0,026 milligrams
Manganese1,36 milligrams
Selenium0,242 micrograms
Vitamin C0,296 milligrams
Thiamine0,002 milligrams
Riboflavin0,003 milligrams
Niacin0,104 milligrams
Pantothenic acid0,028 milligrams
Vitamin B60,012 milligrams
Folate0,468 micrograms
Folic acid0 micrograms
Coline0,858 milligrams
Vitamin B120 micrograms
Vitamin A1,17 micrograms
Retinol0 micrograms
Carotene, beta8,74 micrograms
Carotene, alpha0,078 micrograms
Cryptoxanthin10,1 micrograms
Lycopene1,17 micrograms
Lutein + Zeaxanthin17,3 micrograms
Vitamin E0,181 milligrams
Vitamin D0 micrograms
Vitamin K2,43 micrograms
Total saturated fatty acids0,027 grams
Total monounsaturated fatty acids0,019 grams
Total polyunsaturated fatty acids0,005 grams
Cholesterol0 milligrams
Tryptophan0,004 grams
Threonine0,011 grams
Isoleucine0,011 grams
Leucine0,02 grams
Lysine0,019 grams
Methionine0,006 grams
Cystine0,005 grams
Phenylalanine0,011 grams
Tyrosine0,011 grams
Valina0,017 grams
Arginine0,013 grams
Histidine0,009 grams
Alanine0,013 grams
Aspartic acid0,034 grams
Glutamic acid0,029 grams
Glycine0,015 grams
Proline0,033 grams
Serine0,015 grams

4 benefits of cinnamon on health 

Now, we’ll share with you 4 benefits that you can get from consuming cinnamon in your diet. Let’s continue!

1. Antioxidant properties 

The natural antioxidant components of some foods are important for them to act as protective agents in the body. After all, antioxidants fight against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to the body, such as the development of diseases. Cinnamon, for example, has polyphenols, a component with antioxidant power. In fact, the scientific journal Forest (2021) states that cinnamon is a source of natural antioxidants that may play a crucial role in aging and disease.

2. Anti-inflammatory 

In most cases, inflammation occurs as a defense mechanism for the body to react to injury or infection. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory power thanks to components called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for the characteristic smell and taste of cinnamon. The scientific journal International Journal of Food Properties (2017) states that cinnamon and its derivatives can act as natural anti-inflammatory agents with high potency.

3. Anti-diabetes 

Diabetes is a disease that causes high blood glucose or blood sugar levels. Different sources, such as the scientific journals International Journal of Food Properties (2017) and Forest (2021), claim that cinnamon may have positive effects on diabetes. Cinnamon is said to have positive effects thanks to its capacity to regulate and lower blood sugar levels, in addition, it reduces the absorption of insulin by the intestine.

4. Protection of the digestive system 

The scientific journal International Journal of Food Properties (2017) asserts that cinnamon can reduce the risk of gastric ulcers, protect the digestive system from harmful free radicals and even prevent the risk of chronic gastritis.

How is cinnamon consumed? 

Cinnamon is usually marketed in two forms: cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder. It is mainly used as a spice to flavor different foods such as bakery products or pastries, to add to beverages such as tea or coffee, and to flavor meats, among other uses. Cinnamon essential oil is also made and used in aromatherapy or has home applications as an air freshener for the home.

Where did cinnamon originate?

It is believed that cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka and southern China. This spice has been used by humans for thousands of years, and not only to improve the flavor of food. For example, in Egypt, cinnamon was used for embalming mummies, preparing perfumes, and even as a method of traditional medicine.

Cinnamon was a spice of high economic value, and for this reason, pharaohs gave it as an offering to their gods. Likewise, the Greeks used this spice as an offering to the gods and made perfumes, as did the Egyptians. Something curious is that the source of cinnamon was a secret, the spice was used in many places in the world, but people did not know where it came from; it is believed that this was done to keep food prices high. In fact, Pliny the Elder mentioned that 350 grams of cinnamon was equivalent to the same price as 5 kg of silver and the secret of the origin was kept until the 12th century.

Later, in the 16th century, the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama found the island of Sri Lanka, approximately in the year 1528, and from that moment on they took over the cinnamon trade. This went on until the 17th century after they were expelled by the Dutch in 1658. Holland established the Dutch East India Company and monopolized the world cinnamon market, until 1796 when the British East India Company took control. Finally, cinnamon began to be cultivated in different parts of the world, therefore, the high price of the spice ended up dropping, although Holland continued to control Indonesia until 1945, when they declared their independence, and nowadays they are one of the pioneers in the cinnamon trade.  

World industry of cinnamon

How important is cinnamon in the world? Here we’ll show you the background of this spice, you’ll be able to know how it is in terms of production, export, and import.

The 5 countries that produce the most cinnamon  

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the 5 countries that produced the most cinnamon in 2020 were:

PositionCountriesProduction in tons in 2020Farming area in hectares in 2020
Indonesia  91.242110.816
China, mainland72.53140.564
Vietnam  31.42987.764
Sri Lanka22.91035.462
Madagascar  3.6662.135

The 5 countries exporting cinnamon

Below, you can see a chart with the 5 countries that exported the most cinnamon in 2020, according to FAO and their main destinations.

PositionCountriesExports in tons in 2020Countries they export to the most
China, Continental86.549BangladeshVietnamPakistanSaudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates
Vietnam49.079IndiaIndonesiaUnited StatedBangladeshSouth Korea
Indonesia37.027United StatesNetherlandsBrazilVietnamThailand
Sri Lanka19.621MexicoUnited StatesPeruColombiaEcuador
Emiratos Árabes unidos  6.138YemenIranIraqOmanChina

Top 10 countries importing cinnamon 

Finally, here is a list of the 10 countries that imported the most cinnamon in 2020, according to FAO.

  • India: 37,820 tons
  • United States: 30,629 tons
  • Bangladesh: 11,852 tons
  • Netherlands: 6,186 tons
  • Pakistan: 6,724 tons
  • United Arab Emirates: 6,700 metric tons
  • Saudi Arabia: 6,047 tons
  • Mexico: 5,388 tons
  • Iran: 4,903 tons
  • Germany: 4,770 tons

How is cinnamon cultivated? 

All foods need different conditions to grow, here we show you the main characteristics to take into account when growing cinnamon.

Climate and soils 

Mainly, it is grown in low areas located between 0 and 600 meters above sea level. Cinnamon tree crops are located in warm climates with temperatures around 24 to 30 °C and rainfall of 2000 to 4000 mm that are well distributed throughout the year.

As for soils, cinnamon needs to be planted in sandy ground to ensure good drainage of the tree, it should also have a large amount of organic matter.

Cinnamon propagation 

Cinnamon can be propagated by sowing the plant pieces as cuttings or by seeds, in fact, this latter method is the one most used by growers. The seed can be extracted directly from the fruits, but one must choose the healthiest, most mature and most vigorous trees. Planting can then be done in a seedbed or directly in the soil.

Cinnamon harvesting and post-harvesting 

The first harvest is done when the tree is 3 to 4 years old and then twice a year every 2 years. It is the branches that are cut to extract the spice, therefore, they must meet certain standards to be harvested. For example, they must be more than 2.5 or 3 m above the ground and be at least 3 cm in diameter. If they meet these standards, the farmers cut them about 5 cm away from the trunk so that the trunk continues to give new shoots.

Once the farmers have selected the branches, they proceed to remove the leaves and leave the branch alone. Then they peel the bark, roll it and place it to dry to obtain the cinnamon sticks familiar to you. The quality of the cinnamon depends on the part of the branch from which it is extracted: if it is extracted from the middle, it is of good quality; if it is extracted from the end, it is of second quality; and if it is extracted from the base, it is of third quality.


Cinnamon is a spice that has been used for thousands of years and is a common condiment in the cuisine of many parts of the world. It has a characteristic flavor and smell that cannot be confused. We hope that you have learned more about cinnamon with this blog and that you can use it more in your favorite dishes.