Can coffee protect drinkers from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's? A new study finds an evidence that certain types of coffee could prevent mental decline later in life.
Plenty has been said about the benefits and risks of coffee, a common beverage that a large portion of the population consumes on a regular basis. In the United States, 54 percent of adults drink one or more cups of coffee every day.
Benefits Of Coffee
Apparently, coffee does more than just to wake people up in time for work or school. It also protects the brain from cognitive impairment later in life.
"Coffee consumption does seem to have correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," said Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute in Canada and a co-author of the study. "But we wanted to investigate why that is — which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline."
For the study, Dr. Weaver and his team tested three different types of coffee: caffeinated dark roasted, caffeinated light roast, and decaffeinated dark roast. They first eliminated the possibility that caffeine is the element that improves thinking and prevents cognitive impairment in coffee drinkers.
Instead, the researchers focused on the compound called phenylindanes, which are formed when coffee beans are roasted. The same compound is also responsible for the beverage's bitter flavor.
It seems that the phenylindanes, rather than other compounds found in coffee, are protecting drinkers from mental decline. The researchers found that the compound is inhibiting the build-up of tau and beta-amyloid — two proteins linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Not All Coffee Are The Same
However, not all coffee would have the same amount of phenylindanes. The amount of time the coffee beans are roasted affects the production of the compound. It means that drinking dark roasted would provide more phenylindanes and therefore, would be most effective in protecting brain function.
"So phenylindanes are a dual inhibitor," added Weaver. "Very interesting. We were not expecting that."
This is the first time that the compound has been probed to see how it affects the brain. However, the researchers said that they hope to continue investigating how the phenylindanes in coffee affect the human body.
The findings were published in the journal Frontiers In Neuroscience.