Cinnamon is a beloved spice enjoyed by millions around the world.
It’s used as a common flavoring for many different types of foods.
I know for myself, it’s always reminded me of fall.
Its unique comforting aroma brings me back to memories of warm pies, apple cider, and lattes.
Did you know that cinnamon also has important health benefits for the brain and body?
What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a sweet, warming spice made from the bark of trees originally native to China and Sri Lanka.
For many Americans it’s the scent and taste of autumn, conjuring up memories of apple pie and butternut squash at Thanksgiving.
Cinnamon also plays an important role in the herbal traditions of China, India, and the Middle East.
Some of the health benefits of these ancient traditions are being confirmed by modern science.
Here are the 5 ways cinnamon may help support brain health.
1. Cinnamon And Brain Health
Many studies suggest that cinnamon may be especially good for brain health.
Cinnamon appears to encourage the process of learning and forming new memories. (1)
It also seems to protect the brain by helping the body deal with symptoms associated with inflammation, stress, and high blood sugar. (2)
Cinnamon’s brain benefits may make it one of the best natural nootropics.
2. Cinnamon, Memory, And Learning
More and more people are discovering that solving puzzles, new learning, and socializing are great ways to keep the brain agile. (3)
But did you know that cinnamon may also help improve memory and learning?
When people learn new things, their neurons (brain cells) actually create new connections with each other.
Brain cells form structures called “dendritic spines” that reach for other neurons.
Cinnamon breaks down in the body to create a chemical called sodium benzoate.
Sodium benzoate encourages neurons to form more and bigger dendritic spines, so they can make more new connections. (4)
It also increases neurotrophic factors, chemicals that encourage the growth and long life of neurons. (5)
Experiments show that mice who are given cinnamon become better learners, solving mazes faster than they did before they ate the spice. (6)
Nobody has done similar experiments with humans yet, but researchers hypothesize that human may brains probably respond to cinnamon in similar ways.
3. Cinnamon And Inflammation
Chronic inflammation speeds up aging and wears down the whole body – including the brain.
Inflammation is supposed to be the body’s way of protecting itself.
But when inflammation gets out of control, our immune systems attack healthy tissues.
Unhealthy foods, sleepless nights, and stress all increase inflammation. (6)
Brain inflammation contributes to some kinds of depression. (7)
Cinnamon seems to help support the processes in the body that manage inflammation. It’s high in antioxidants, which protect us from the effects of stress.
One study found that it has stronger antioxidant action than 25 other common spices. (8)
It’s especially effective in reducing brain inflammation. (9)
4. Cinnamon And Dopamine
One way inflammation causes problems in the brain is by attacking the cells that produce dopamine.
Dopamine is the chemical responsible for helping us feel pleasure.
It also motivates us to seek out what we want and need.
Dopamine decreases as we age, in part because of brain inflammation.
Cinnamon encourages the brain to protect itself.
It increases the production of the chemicals that stop inflammation from damaging the cells that make dopamine. (10)
5. Cinnamon, Blood Sugar, And The Brain
High blood sugar is one of the major sources of brain inflammation.
When blood sugar is too high for too long, the pancreas produces too much insulin.
Insulin signals cells to take in sugar.
When there is too much insulin, cells start ignoring it.
This is called insulin resistance, and it is the root of type 2 diabetes.
Insulin and blood sugar both build up in the bloodstream.
They increase inflammation and damage blood vessels and the brain’s protective barrier.
Harmful plaques can build up in the brain itself, causing Alzheimer’s.
Some doctors have begun calling Alzheimer’s disease “type 3 diabetes.” (13)
Cinnamon may help with the symptoms of insulin resistance and diabetes.
A Chinese study found that cinnamon lowered blood sugar and insulin in people with insulin resistance. (11)
Cinnamon helped mouse brains handle insulin better.
Diabetic mice given cinnamon showed better brain function, too. (12)
Healthy blood sugar leads to a healthier brain.
Best Ingredient for Brain Health
Brain health requires healthy eating, plenty of good sleep, and physical and mental exercise.
Herbs and spices can be important parts of a diet that promotes brain health.
We still have a lot to learn about cinnamon’s brain benefits.
Research so far shows that it may help protect the brain.
It may help with learning and memory too.
Cinnamon is one of the best ingredients for brain health.
Adding cinnamon into your morning diet is a delicious and healthy way to start your day.
How Do You Get More Cinnamon in Your Diet?
Some people get their cinnamon from pills or tinctures.
These can be great, but since cinnamon is so delicious, why not just add it to your diet?
4 Ways To Get Cinnamon Into Your Diet
- Cinnamon is featured in many amazing dishes from the Middle East. If you enjoy new cooking adventures, try a Persian or Turkish cookbook and discover how those cultures have used cinnamon to complement the flavors of their chicken, lamb, and vegetables dishes.
- If you aren’t such an avid home chef, try sprinkling cinnamon on cereal, oatmeal or on apple slices.
- Cinnamon is the perfect complement to any morning coffee. Its sweet warmth balances coffee’s rich flavors and aromas.
- Try our Super Brain Blend instant coffee. It combines cinnamon with black pepper, lion’s mane mushroom, L-Theanine, and the finest gourmet coffee.