What Is Saigon Cinnamon? Benefits and Comparison to Other Types
Saigon cinnamon, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon or Vietnamese cassia, comes from the tree Cinnamomum loureiroi.
Used in many dishes around the world, it has a strong, sweet, and spicy flavor and aroma.
What’s more, Saigon cinnamon is linked to a number of health benefits.
This article tells you everything you need to know about Saigon cinnamon, including its potential benefits and how it differs from other varieties.
What makes Saigon cinnamon different
There are two main classes of cinnamon — Ceylon, and cassia.
They comprise four major species, most of which — including Saigon cinnamon — are considered cassia varieties.
Saigon cinnamon contains more cinnamaldehyde than other types. This compound is responsible for its strong flavor and aroma and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Furthermore, similarly to other cassia species, Saigon cinnamon is believed to be harmful in large doses due to its high coumarin content.
Coumarin is a chemical naturally found in cinnamon that can have toxic effects. Based on animal research, the European Food Safety Authority determined a tolerable daily intake to be 0.05 mg per pound (0.1 mg per kilogram) of body weight.
This equates to about 1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) of Saigon cinnamon daily.
Ceylon cinnamon, which is derived from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree and considered “true cinnamon,” is much lower in coumarin and poses less risk of toxicity.
Still, as this type is more expensive, most grocery stores carry the cheaper Cassia variety.
Saigon cinnamon is a species of cassia cinnamon with a stronger flavor and aroma than other varieties. Though it’s considered to be lower quality than Ceylon cinnamon, it’s less expensive and easily found in grocery stores.
Benefits of Saigon cinnamon
Saigon cinnamon has been linked to several health benefits.
May help reduce blood sugar levels
Research suggests that cinnamon may help reduce blood sugar, which is especially important for people with diabetes.
Saigon cinnamon is a type of cassia cinnamon, which may play a role in reducing insulin resistance.
It helps your cells become more sensitive to the blood-sugar-lowering effects of insulin, which is a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
What’s more, several studies in people with diabetes indicate that taking 1–6 grams of cinnamon in supplement form daily for 4–16 weeks may moderately reduce blood sugar levels.
However, these studies refer to cassia cinnamon in general and not the Saigon variety specifically.
Though cinnamon may moderately affect your blood sugar levels, most studies have been too small or haven’t found sufficient evidence to support its effectiveness for this use. Thus, more research is needed.
Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
Similarly to other varieties, Saigon cinnamon is high in antioxidants, which are compounds that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
The spice also contains several anti-inflammatory compounds that can benefit your health.
Chronic inflammation is linked to several conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers, and heart disease.
Diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are associated with a reduced risk of many of these and other illnesses.
Various cinnamon extracts have shown high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Saigon cinnamon is high in cinnamaldehyde — the compound that gives the spice its unique flavor and aroma. This compound is also responsible for many of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In fact, cinnamaldehyde is the main substance in cassia varieties, accounting for nearly 73% of its composition.
Test-tube and animal studies note that cinnamaldehyde has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, human studies indicate that supplementing with high doses of the cinnamon extract can increase blood antioxidant levels and decrease markers of oxidative stress, which can lead to cellular damage.
Though research is promising, more studies are needed to understand the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Saigon cinnamon specifically.
May have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties
Many studies confirm the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of cinnamon.
Indeed, the spice is used in both food and cosmetic products to decrease the risk of bacterial contamination.
However, few studies are available on Saigon cinnamon specifically.
One test-tube study found that essential oil compounds in this variety had antibacterial activity against Listeria, a genus of bacteria that commonly causes foodborne illness.
Another test-tube study observed that cinnamon extract oil may be more effective than other oils at targeting and eradicating Borrelia sp., the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Though the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of cinnamon are promising, more studies in humans and on Saigon cinnamon specifically are needed to better understand these effects.
Here are some additional suggested benefits of Saigon cinnamon:
- Improves taste. According to one study, adding Saigon cinnamon to foods may improve palatability. Additionally, due to its naturally sweet and spicy taste, it may be a good alternative to low-calorie sweeteners.
- Strong flavor. Saigon cinnamon has a stronger flavor than other varieties, perhaps making it a preferable choice if you enjoy a more robust flavor.
Saigon cinnamon may reduce blood sugar levels and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. Plus, it’s a tasty addition to your diet. Nonetheless, more research on Saigon cinnamon specifically is needed.
Easy to add to your diet
Saigon cinnamon can be found in most grocery stores or online — either in-ground or stick form.
You can easily add it to baked goods, yogurt, cereal, and even certain savory dishes.
Here are some ways to enjoy Saigon cinnamon:
- Sprinkle it on oatmeal.
- Add it to a smoothie.
- Bake with it in muffins, pies, or bread.
- Add it to curries or marinades.
- Add whole cinnamon sticks to a pot of tea.
Saigon cinnamon can easily be added to your diet and used in a variety of dishes.
The bottom line
Saigon cinnamon, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon or Vietnamese cassia, is a type of cassia cinnamon.
It may lower blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties.
Still, due to its high coumarin content, you should limit your intake to 1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) per day.
Ceylon cinnamon is much lower in coumarin and poses a lower risk of toxicity. If you want to try this variety, you can find it online or in health food stores — though it comes with a higher price tag.