Researchers from a 2013 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease discuss how cinnamon contains two key Alzheimer’s-fighting compounds: cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin. Both of these compounds may help protect against the formation of what can be thought of as “knots” in our brain cells. These knots are caused by the clumping together of what’s called tau proteins and are often seen in greater numbers in Alzheimer’s patients.
Cinnamaldehyde — the compound that gives cinnamon its signature aroma — can protect against this accumulation of tau proteins by keeping them safe from oxidative stress, much like how a hat can help protect against sunburn damage, the researchers explain. Similarly, epicatechin harbors antioxidant properties, which further supports the health of our cells. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if a small molecule from a spice could help? [P]erhaps prevent it, or slow down the progression,” said Donald Graves, one of the authors of the study.