By Sophie Addison, Guest Contributor
Cinnamon has to be one of the most widely used ingredients when it comes to baking cakes or preparing desserts. Yet besides being known and used in every household, the spice is also known to have a number of important health benefits including diabetes prevention and management, heart health, among many others. It has been widely used for centuries in traditional medicine across different cultures. Throughout this article, I would like to share some facts about how this healthy and delicious spice can improve your cognitive abilities, particularly your memory. You’ll be surprised!
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants
The spice is loaded with antioxidants which destroy free radicals and prevent oxidative damage that could cause inflammation, cancer, as well as affect brain cells. Antioxidants such as polyphenol found in cinnamon are magnificent for brain health and sharp memory and cognitive abilities.
The journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience published results of the study which analyzed the impact of cinnamon on cognitive functioning and showed that polyphenols could potentiate the signaling pathways of synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory. For the purpose of the study, the researchers used adult mice and fed them with polyphenol-rich diet for eight weeks. They discovered that dietary supplementation with these antioxidants reversed age-induced effects on the brain. In fact, polyphenols should be considered as potential food nutrients to help prevent the age-related cognitive decline, scientists concluded.
Findings of this groundbreaking study also showed that these antioxidants also play a significant role in memory in early life. Although benefits of polyphenols on memory and learning are evident, it’s unknown how they act at the molecular level to modulate gene expression that leads to improved cognitive performance.
It contains calcium and magnesium
Cinnamon contains significant levels of calcium. If you think calcium is only good for the bones, you’re mistaken. This potent mineral has multiple health benefits, and it’s also good for your brain. The journal Cell Reports published findings from the research showing that blocking a channel which brings calcium to the mitochondria causes memory impairment. The surprising results give a whole new insight into the role of this mineral in the mitochondria and consequences of insufficient intake of calcium.
Let’s not forget that confusion and memory loss are significant indicators of calcium insufficiency in the organism. The reason why low calcium levels lead to memory loss is that they affect the functioning of the entire nervous system and neurological changes.
Magnesium is yet another essential mineral which also proved to be highly beneficial for brain power. The journal Neuron published research which showed that manganese improves memory. Unfortunately, most individuals living in industrialized areas have magnesium deficiencies. The study also showed that buying magnesium supplements is counterproductive due to the fact they block NMDA receptor, a molecule vital for memory function. Instead, it’s better to consume it through diet. Cinnamon fits perfectly here!
Cinnamon is also rich in fiber
Nutritional content of cinnamon never ceases to amaze. Besides high antioxidant levels, calcium, and other nutrients, this spice also contains fiber. In fact, 100g of cinnamon has about 53g of fiber. Dietary fiber is essential for healthy and regular digestion. For example, if you want to lose weight, you have to up the intake of fiber, but that’s not all it does. Believe it or not, dietary fiber also plays a role in cognition and memory.
For example, the journal Metabolism featured a study which analyzed the impact of fiber on different health aspects besides digestion and diabetes. The research showed that inflammation is a critical component of cognitive decline and development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Consumption of dietary fiber has a tremendous potential to improve cognitive functioning, mood, and memory due to its pivotal role in regulating systemic inflammation, depression, and anxiety.
The Journal of Nutrition published results of the study which showed that higher intake of lignans, co-passengers of dietary fiber, is strongly associated with a better cognitive function in postmenopausal women. If you didn’t know how to improve memory and brain health quickly and naturally, cinnamon is the answer.
Delays/reverses cognitive impairment
The journal Nutritional Neuroscience presented the study whose aim was to assess the effect of cinnamon on cognitive performance. Scientists discovered that the spice has the power to induce cognitive improvement in rats that were treated for scopolamine-treated mice which showed significant memory retention prior they were administered with cinnamon extract.
We can classify cinnamon into the group of natural “tools” that improve memory and cognitive functioning, along with nootropic supplements like Provasil and other such products.