Cinnamon is a GREAT way to make foods sweeter without adding sugar. Native to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), true cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C. Its botanical name derives from the Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, meaning fragrant spice plant. From their word for cannon, Italians called it canella, meaning "little tube," which describes cinnamon sticks. Medieval physicians used cinnamon in medicines to treat coughing, hoarseness, and sore throats.
When it comes to brain health, cinnamon extracts seem to slow down the progression and even improve some symptoms of “neurodegenerative” diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Some additional benefits of cinnamon include:
Cinnamon is great for the brain as we get older as it has been shown to delay cognitive impairment by lowering oxidative stress of brain cells (Jain, Sangma, Shukla, & Mediratta, 2015).
Cinnamon may be beneficial for Parkinson’s patients by improving dopamine production (Khasnavis & Pahan, 2014).
Cinnamon may curb food cravings by targeting a brain chemical involved in glucose and cholesterol (Bano, Ikram, & Akhtar, 2014).
Cinnamon can turn a poor learner into a good learner by stimulating hippocampal plasticity, a part of the brain associated with memory (Modi, Rangasamy, Dasarathi, Roy, & Pahan, 2016).
Cinnamon is a good source of the powerful antioxidant manganese. Two teaspoons of cinnamon provides about half the RDA of manganese, a powerful antioxidant that is crucial for brain and body health (Coassin, Ursini, & Bindoli, 1992).
What Type of Cinnamon Is Recommended?
When you’re buying cinnamon, not all of it is created equal. There are two main types of cinnamon; the common type known as “cassia”, as well as the “true” cinnamon known as ceylon. Cassia cinnamon is the inexpensive and common type that is found in grocery stores. It is from the tree Cinnamomum aromaticum. True or “ceylon” cinnamon is from the tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Ceylon cinnamon tastes a bit sweeter than the cassia type, and is also a bit lighter in colour. And, yes, “ceylon” cinnamon is harder to find and more expensive than the common type, “cassia”.
We recommend that you stick with the true “ceylon” cinnamon. It is a bit harder to find and more expensive than the common type, but is available in some health food stores and on Amazon.
A Daily Dose of Cinnamon
We’ve unearthed these quick ways to work ceylon cinnamon into your diet. You can stir it into your oatmeal, quinoa, rice or yogurt, add it to a smoothie or sprinkle it on fresh fruit, season vegetables before roasting or add a small amount of cinnamon to rubs, marinades, and stews.
You should opt for cinnamon sticks if the dish that you are making will be cooked for a long time. This is because cinnamon in stick form releases its flavor over a longer period.
Use a cinnamon stick when cooking quinoa or brown rice! You can throw the stick into the water while the quinoa cooks, and you can also try BAKING the quinoa or brown rice in the oven with some coconut milk and some added ginger. Yum Yum.
Toss a cinnamon stick into a slow cooker filled with hearty chili, a slow cooked coconut rice dish, or any slow cooked meat. It adds a delicious layer of flavor and light spice to your meal.
Golden milk! Simmer some coconut milk, water, a cinnamon stick, turmeric root, ginger, black pepper for 20 minutes or so. Makes a delicious warming beverage that is also highly anti-inflammatory.
Spice up your coffee - Place a cinnamon stick on top of coffee grounds before you begin brewing. A subtle, yet perfect amount of warm cinnamon spice will be infused into your morning coffee.
Bano, F., Ikram, H., & Akhtar, N. (2014). Neurochemical and behavioral effects of Cinnamomi cassiae (Lauraceae) bark aqueous extract in obese rats. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 27(3), 559–563.
Coassin, M., Ursini, F., & Bindoli, A. (1992). Antioxidant effect of manganese. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 299(2), 330–333.
Jain, S., Sangma, T., Shukla, S. K., & Mediratta, P. K. (2015). Effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicum extract on scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment and oxidative stress in rats. Nutritional Neuroscience, 18(5), 210–216. https://doi.org/10.1179/1476830514Y.0000000113
Khasnavis, S., & Pahan, K. (2014). Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology: The Official Journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology, 9(4), 569–581. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11481-014-9552-2
Modi, K. K., Rangasamy, S. B., Dasarathi, S., Roy, A., & Pahan, K. (2016). Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology: The Official Journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology, 11(4), 693–707. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11481-016-9693-6