Can the red-brown spice with the unmistakable fragrance and variety of uses offer an unusual benefit? The common baking spice might hold the key to delay ing the onset of – or warding off – the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a neurodegenerative disease that progressively worsens overtime. No cure has yet been found, nor has the major cause been identified. However, two compounds found in cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin – are showing some promise in the effort to fight the disease! A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that these two cinnamon compounds may prevent the development of the “tangles” that are found in the brain cells that characterize Alzheimer’s. A protein called tau plays a large role in the structure and function of the neurons. The problem with tau in Alzheimer’s is that it starts aggregating, and when the protein does not bind properly, it has a tendency to clump together. The older we get, the more susceptible we are to these twists and tangles and Alzheimer’s patients develop them more than others. The use of cinnamaldehyde, the compound responsible for the bright, sweet smell of cinnamon, has proven effective in preventing these tau knots. Epicatechin, which is also present in other foods such as blueberries, is a powerful antioxidant and interacts with the tau protein in a similar protective way. But don’t go cinnamon crazy just yet – while the research is promising, there is a long way to go before knowing if this works outside the laboratory.
5 steps towards a healthier brain:
1. Challenge your brain – learn a new language, read or do puzzles.
2. Eat healthy and mindfully – you wouldn’t fill your new car with the wrong gas, so think about how you treat your own body.
3. Get regular check ups – and don’t leave it all up to the doc. How do you feel? If something feels off, speak up early.
4. Be active – both physically and socially. Move your body in a way that puts a smile on your face, whether it’s running, dancing or gardening, and take some time out to socialize with friends and family.
5. 270,000 people can’t be wrong – download the free BrainyApp from Alzheimer’s Australia and Bupa Health Foundation for plenty of fun tips to live a brain-healthy life. www.yourbrainmatters.org.au
Choose wisely! The cinnamon most commonly found on supermarket shelves, Cassia cinnamon, is rich in coumarin. This substance has been linked to liver damage. By comparison, Ceylon cinnamon – often called “true cinnamon” – contains roughly 63 times less coumarin. That’s 63 reasons to double check the small print before you buy!