Cinnamon doesn't just taste great paired with apples, sprinkled on oatmeal and other homemade goodies, it turns out the benefits could go a lot further than its warming flavour.
According to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, ground cinnamon will transform a poor learner into a good one. Their study revealed how the simple household spice is able to improve a vital protein that's key to memory and learning. The lead researcher Kalipada Pahan, a neurology professor said:
"This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners. Understanding brain mechanisms that lead to poor learning is important to developing effective strategies to improve memory and learning ability."
The scientists took a group of mice, who had had a lower learning ability, and placed them in a maze and timed them to see how long it took them to find the exit. After feeding the mice doses of cinnamon for a month, the lower performing mice were able to memorise the maze much more quickly and navigate out twice as fast.
Pahan explained that when cinnamon is digested, the body converts it into a chemical called sodium benzoate, which promotes healthy neurons that are essential to learning.
Other health benefits of cinnamon...
A potential for Parkinson's?
This is actually the second time that cinnamon has proven itself to be a natural brain booster. In 2014, Pahan and his team also found cinnamon had the ability to halt the progression of Parkinson's disease in mice. When cinnamon metabolised into sodium benzoate, it worked to protect the neurons, normalise brain cells, and improve communication within the brain.
"This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson's patients. It would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease."
Reduces blood sugar levels for diabetics
Nearly 20 years ago, scientists discovered that cinnamon could mimic insulin in the body and trigger the receptors that bring down high sugar levels in blood. Researchers in Pakistan gave people with Type 2 diabetes ground cinnamon capsules of varying doses to take after meals. All were found to have reduced blood sugar levels compared to a control group given no cinnamon, with some even reporting normal levels.
In 2007, a small study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took a daily dose of cinnamon for eight weeks showed significant reductions in insulin resistance.
Despite such promise, more recent comprehensive reviews have concluded that the effect of cinnamon on diabetes is not strong enough to consider it as a treatment.