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Here's a New, Scientific Excuse to Eat More Cinnamon Rolls

Don't start prepping for the Cinnamon Challenge yet, but the spice just might make you a smarter learner.
July 18, 2016, 9:00am

Cinnamon rolls, cinnamon dolce lattes, and those Domino's cinnamon pizza things may satisfy indulgences, but if they aren't the most nutritionally void creations known to man, who knows what are. That's unfair to cinnamon, an otherwise healthy spice—possibly even a "superfood"—that belongs in lots of other dishes, too.

Now, here's some news to get your mind out of the cinnamon roll gutter: Cinnamon could make you a better learner.

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A new study published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmocology found that for mice, eating cinnamon is like playing Brain Quest. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago observed that when mice were fed ground cinnamon, it was metabolized into sodium benzoate, which is used to treat brain damage. The sodium benzoate increased a type of protein in the brain that helps with visual and memory learning and decreased a protein that inhibits learning.

Mice that were deemed to be poor learners were given cinnamon and then entered a maze. After multiple runs, the mice that had previously struggled with navigating the maze showed improved performance, better memorization, and learning on par with their brighter peers. Mice that were already good learners, however, didn't benefit from the cinnamon.

The findings don't mean that eating cinnamon will have the same effect in humans, so hold off before gearing up for the cinnamon challenge. But further research could help clarify if cinnamon would help children who have trouble in the classroom. Not much is known about why some people learn better than others—while some kids pick up new concepts with ease, others struggle.

READ MORE: A Woman Is Trying to End the Cinnamon Challenge After Her Son's Death

"This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners," said Kalipada Pahan, the study's lead researcher.

Pahan's explored the wonders of cinnamon in the past, finding that it could reverse brain changes due to Parkinson's disease in mice. Pahan's team also found that Ceylon cinnamon is purer, and preferable to Chinese cinnamon, which contains a molecule that can cause liver damage.

If in the future it can be proved that cinnamon can indeed help people learn better, it would be huge.

Imagine: breakfasts filled with cinnamon rolls and Cinnamon Toast Crunch—for health, of course. We dare to dream.