This Holiday Ingredient Will Help Keep Your Brain Sharp If Your To-Do List Is Just A LOT

by Georgina Berbari

Cinnamon makes everything taste better. A pinch of cinnamon in your coffee? You know I'm on that sh*t every morning. Buttery, cinnamon-sprinkled sweet potatoes? Sign me up, fam. Freshly baked, flakey cinnamon rolls? Honestly, say. No. More. I would say that I'll stop my aggressive stanning of cinnamon now, but the thing is, this sweet and fragrant spice isn't just incredibly tasty. Cinnamon is good for your brain, too, which undoubtedly makes it the best spice around. Do not even consider fighting me on this (I'm looking at you, turmeric lovers).

All kidding aside, though, especially around the holidays, cinnamon is a glorious addition to all the things. Plus, if your to-do list is a bit overwhelming lately — holiday parties to attend, gifts to exchange, sugar cookies to bake — why not consider reaping cinnamon's many brain-centric benefits?

"Cinnamon is a wonderful ingredient, which not only provides potent, pleasant taste, but contributes numerous health benefits as well — particularly to the brain and its processes," Jamie Bacharach, an acupuncturist and alternative medicine expert at Maple Holistics, tells Elite Daily over email. "Our bodies convert cinnamon to sodium benzoate, which offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects to the body and brain, resulting in a sharper mind and clearer head."

Specifically, says Bacharach, the sodium benzoate that cinnamon is converted to once it's in your body is capable of helping the brain to create and preserve memories, as well as aiding with general cognitive functions. "Cinnamon has also been found to protect the brain under various difficult conditions, and is even capable of fighting the effects of Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis," Bacharach explains. "It is believed that cinnamon can help to prevent cognitive disease and degeneration before it occurs, as well."

Of course, these are mostly long-term benefits of cinnamon, but if your head is spinning from gift-shopping, food-prepping, and all your other holiday responsibilities, what could it hurt to add some cinnamon to your morning coffee, or even those sweet potatoes you're planning to eat for dinner? After all, Bacharach says cinnamon is also an excellent source of manganese, which is an antioxidant which promotes general brain health and functioning.

Not to brag here, but no wonder I did so well on my college exams while I was chugging my generously cinnamon-sprinkled Starbucks coffee — just saying. "All in all, it's tough to argue with cinnamon's brain-boosting punch," Bacharach adds.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't have specific guidelines for how much cinnamon is good to eat, the European Food Safety Authority states that around one teaspoon per day is the recommended amount. However, according to Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, you probably don't need to eat quite that much of the spice on a regular basis to reap its brain-boosting benefits. "I recommend a dash here and a dash there; sprinkling it on food or in tea/coffee, cooking with it, etc.," she tells Elite Daily in an email.

Auslander Moreno also stresses the importance of never taking cinnamon as a "shot," as it's "a choking hazard," she says. Seriously, "the cinnamon challenge" is not worth it, guys.

Instead, don't hold back when it comes to sprinkling cinnamon in your morning java, adding it to a nourishing bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal, or including it in the copious amount of delicious baked goods you might be making for the holidays. Another idea? Go and treat yo'self by picking up some drool-worthy cinnamon rolls from a local bakery — you deserve it.