Adding a dash of cinnamon to your diet, or chewing on a stick of cinnamon gum can help boost memory and learning, and stave off some symptoms of anxiety, a new study finds.

Cinnamon, the popular aromatic spice used in baking and cooking could do more than just wake up your taste buds. A new study reveals eating products with cinnamon can help improve memory and learning, and may also reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Previous research reported cinnamon has a positive effect on health. Studies have revealed cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. The spice can also help boost immune system function. But now, a team of researchers from Birjand University of Medical Sciences has completed a meta-analysis of prior research papers, reporting cinnamon consumption could help reduce or prevent memory loss and improve learning.

Reviewing a body of literature from PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus, researchers identified 40 studies that focused on the benefits of cinnamon consumption for learning and memory. Of those 40, 33 were conducted in-vivo, and 5 were conducting in-vitro. The final two were clinical studies. Most of the selected studies reported a positive effect of cinnamon consumption on learning and memory.

The researchers found, in-vivo, cinnamon and its components including cinnamic acid, eugenol, and cinnamaldehyde had a positive effect on cognitive function.

From the in-vitro studies, the researchers discovered adding cinnamaldehyde or cinnamon to the cell medium increased cell viability while reducing Alzheimer’s associated Tau aggregation and amyloid-beta.

The two clinical studies focused on cinnamon consumption in young adults and pre-diabetic adults below the age of 60. Young adults were instructed to chew sticks of cinnamon gum, while the pre-diabetic adults consumed 2g of white bread laced with cinnamon.

Young adults who chewed cinnamon gum reported improved cognitive and memory function, and a reduction in anxiety symptoms. However, the pre-diabetic participants had little-to-no change in cognitive function after consuming the cinnamon bread.

While researchers found cinnamon and its compounds appear to have a beneficial effect on cognition and learning, they state more research needs to be done. They hope future studies will focus on the impact of cinnamon on the brain with an aim to investigate its potential to slow cognitive impairment and improve overall brain health.