Like other herbs and spices, cinnamon gets relegated to a simple seasoning in many people’s minds. But cinnamon is actually a superfood in its own right, with powerful anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to stop bacterial growth.
New research demonstrates yet another potential benefit of cinnamon: Fighting Alzheimer’s disease. It seems certain compounds found in cinnamon can help inhibit the nasty clumps of brain proteins that are a key component of this neurodegenerative disease.
There are three active compounds in cinnamon that make it so nutritious: Cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol. It also contains a range of flavanols and other antioxidants, along with a surprising amount of calcium, manganese and fiber.
In this recent study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers looked at cinnamaldehyde (the compound responsible for giving cinnamon its distinct smell) and antioxidant compound epicatechin.
In lab cells, these two compounds were able to hinder the formation of tau protein “tangles.” Clumps and tangles of tau protein in the brain that are thought to be a key component of Alzheimer’s disease.
The cinnamaldehyde effectively protected tau proteins from oxidative stress, thereby preventing them from clumping and tangling. However, the researchers point out that they’re ”still a long way from knowing whether this will work in human beings.”