How cinnamon benefits your brain

New research suggests that cinnamon may be more than just a great way to amp up the flavor of our favorite foods.

How cinnamon benefits your brain
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Cinnamon is a great spice. It's perfect for adding to sweet desserts and so many savory recipes, too. Pretty much everyone probably has some cinnamon in their spice cabinet.

But, new research suggests that cinnamon may be more than just a great way to amp up the flavor of our favorite foods. Scientists have already found that the bioactive chemicals in cinnamon have some effect on brain function and behavior. Some studies even suggested that cinnamon could have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties.

Well, according to a recent study from Nutritional Neuroscience, there's also a relationship between cinnamon and cognitive processes like memory and learning.

"The main outcome of most studies proved that cinnamon significantly improves cognitive function," the study's authors found. "In vivo studies showed that using cinnamon or its components, such as eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, and cinnamic acid, could positively alter cognitive function. In vitro studies also showed that adding cinnamon or cinnamaldehyde to a cell medium can reduce tau aggregation, an and  increase cell viability."

Some of that sounds like science-y mumbo jumbo, but basically, that means cinnamon has some pretty good benefits for your brain. Tau aggregation is related to patients with certain neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (in which Amyloid β seems to also play a major role). So, essentially, cinnamon affects the signs we know to be associated with some degenerative cognitive diseases.

This study involved a team of medical doctors and students at Birjand University of Medical Sciences in Iran. They analyzed other published scientific literature to figure out whether or not there's a relationship between eating cinnamon and learning and memory. After finding 40 studies that matched their criteria, the researchers were able to draw connections between cinnamon and positive brain function.

But, the authors still recommend that more studies and experiments be conducted. "Most studies reported that cinnamon might be useful for preventing and reducing cognitive function impairment.," they wrote. "It can be used as an adjuvant in the treatment of related diseases. However, more studies need to be done on this subject."

In the meantime, adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning coffee definitely can't hurt.