This super spice helps you learn new tricks

Learning gets harder as you get older. That’s a scientific fact. But that doesn’t mean you should put your brain on a permanent hiatus from learning once you hit middle age. Because, contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks…

In fact, people who continue learning throughout their life tend to be the happiest of us all — not to mention the least likely to get Alzheimer’s.

So keep on learning and challenging your brain. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a second language. Or learn how to paint. Or earn a graduate degree. If so, now’s the time. I guarantee you’ll end up a lot happier and healthier as a result.

But if you want a little help along the way, I know a secret that will have you learning as easily and swiftly as a high school honor student (even if you never were one).

There’s a spice that, according to the latest research, will help you soak up new information like a sponge. But that’s not all it does — it also improves your memory and prevents Parkinson’s too.

And the good news is, this brain-enhancing spice is one that you probably have in your spice rack right now. I know it’s always on-hand at my house, because it’s one of my absolute favorites — cinnamon.

Neurological scientists from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago recently discovered that mice who were slow learners became better learners after eating ground cinnamon.

“This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners,” said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the lead researcher of the study and the Floyd A. Davis Professor of Neurology at Rush.

Now regardless of age, maybe you’ve always struggled with learning. A lot of people do. And if your one of those people, cinnamon could be your ticket to a more learning-savvy brain.

Researchers found that, after eating cinnamon, mice who were identified as poor learners had learning skills that rivaled the learning skills of the most talented rodent learners.

Researchers also found that eating ground cinnamon helped mice’s memories. And that’s an area we could all use a little help with as we get older. But the benefits of this super spice don’t stop there. These same researchers found that cinnamon can reverse Parkinson’s disease in mice too.

I know, It sounds too good to be true that a delicious spice like cinnamon could have so many benefits for your brain. But it does.

Researchers believe cinnamon is so beneficial to your brain because your body turns it into sodium benzoate. And sodium benzoate is used to treat brain damage. It increases an important protein in the learning and memory department of your brain (otherwise known as the hippocampus) and encourages the neurons in this area of your brain to grow and change.

But in case you didn’t know, not all cinnamon is created equal when it comes to the health benefits. You’ll typically find two kinds of cinnamon in the store: Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon (also known as Chinese cinnamon). Ceylon cinnamon is the pure stuff. That’s what you want to buy. Cassia cinnamon contains high doses of a compound called coumarin, which is bad for your liver and kidneys if you consume it daily.

Unfortunately, the two types are hard to tell apart. If your cinnamon says cinnamomum cassia on the label, it’s cassia cinnamon. If it says cinnamomum zeylanicum or cinnamomum verum, its Ceylon cinnamon. But most cinnamon labels don’t say either way. And if that’s the case, it’s safe to assume its cassia cinnamon, which is cheaper and more common.

But two popular natural brands do make Ceylon cinnamon that’s clearly labeled: Frontier Natural Products and Simply Organic. You can probably find one of these at your local health food store right now. It’s usually recommended that you take one to four grams of ground cinnamon daily… just so you know, four grams is about one teaspoon. Be sure to mix it in something, like yogurt, to help it go down.

Editor’s note: Cinnamon is just one brain-fueling superfood. Discover 14 more, plus 6 memory-killing foods you should avoid to keep your mind strong into your 80s and 90s.  You’ll find these tips and more in Dr. Michael Cutler’s eBook, Nature’s Secrets for an Active, Healthy Mind—At Any Age! Click here to get it for only $9.95 today!

  1. “Can Lifelong Learning Help As We Age?” Psychology Today. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  2. K. Modi, S.B. Rangasamy, S.Dasarathi, A. Roy, K. Pahan. “Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement.” Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 2016.
  3. “Is Too Much Cinnamon Bad for You?” The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and