Saigon cinnamon, also called Vietnamese cinnamon, is a type of cassia cinnamon that comes from the cassia cinnamon tree. It’s an evergreen tree that grows in Southeast Asia. The bark is either rolled up into small tubes or ground into a fine powder.
Known scientifically as Cinnamomum loureiroi, Saigon cinnamon is a spice. Along with other varieties of cinnamon, it’s one of the oldest spices in the world. It was even used in ancient Egypt and mentioned in the Bible. It was also of great importance in ancient China. Many civilizations considered it to be more valuable than gold.
All varieties of cinnamon have unique differences. Sri Lankan cinnamon has the most delicate and complex flavor. Saigon cinnamon, on the other hand, has a higher cinnamaldehyde content, and therefore the strongest flavor.
The spicy and sweet flavor of Saigon cinnamon makes it an excellent addition to many different dishes. It also provides some amazing health benefits.
Several studies show that Saigon cinnamon, along with other varieties of the spice, has anti-inflammatory properties. The cinnamaldehyde and eugenol compounds have antioxidant effects, which can help to fight inflammation. Chronic inflammation may contribute to different health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, digestive issues, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Studies show that cinnamon can help to suppress the expression of inflammatory compounds, which may reduce inflammation in the body.
Other health benefits of Saigon cinnamon include:
Preventing clot formation. Saigon cinnamon has a high concentration of cinnamaldehyde, a compound known for its effects on platelets and preventing clot formation. It also contains coumarin (more than other varieties of cinnamon), another compound known to help prevent clots.
Fighting bacteria and fungus growth. Many studies show that cinnamon is effective as an antimicrobial agent. One study of Saigon cinnamon specifically showed that an extract of the spice was effective against Listeria. Another study found that the oil may be effective against the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Regulating blood sugar levels. As a type of cassia cinnamon, Saigon cinnamon may aid in reducing insulin resistance, which can help to regulate your blood sugar. Some studies also show that cassia cinnamon may help to reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
May help to prevent cancer. An in-vitro study found that cinnamon extract may be effective for stopping the growth of cancerous tumors and destroying cancer cells. More research is needed.
Improving brain function. Smelling cinnamon may help to increase cognitive processing, improving memory and visual-motor response speed. It may also help to prevent the buildup of a specific protein in the brain that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Saigon cinnamon also contains small amounts of:
Nutrients Per Serving
A one-teaspoon serving of ground cinnamon has:
Things to Watch Out For
Saigon cinnamon is generally safe to eat in small amounts. One of the most important things to keep in mind, however, is that it is higher in coumarins than other types of cinnamon. Too much coumarin may cause liver damage. If you have a liver condition, you may want to limit your intake or avoid the use of cinnamon.
The use of Saigon cinnamon may interfere with certain medications. For instance, if you take a medication for diabetes, the blood sugar-lowering effects of Saigon cinnamon may cause your blood sugar to drop too low. It may also increase your risk of liver damage if you take other medications that may affect your liver.
How to Use Saigon Cinnamon
You’ll find Saigon cinnamon (sometimes labeled as Vietnamese cinnamon) in the spice section of the grocery store. It’s often ground, but you may also find cinnamon sticks. You can use both forms in a variety of recipes.
Some ways to use Saigon cinnamon include:
- Sprinkling on toast drizzled with honey
- Adding ground Saigon cinnamon to curries
- Sauteing lamb with cinnamon sticks, raisins, and eggplant
- Making homemade spiced apple cider
- Simmering cinnamon sticks with milk (or a milk alternative) and chocolate for a spiced hot chocolate
- Sprinkling it on your morning oatmeal
- Adding it to a smoothie
- Mixing it into muffins, cupcakes, quick breads, cookies, or pies
- Adding it to rice pudding