The Surprising Brain Health Benefits of Coffee (According to Science)

Kaitlin Vogel
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Why do we love coffee? Let’s count [some of] the ways: The taste, the smell, the way it warms us up on a cold day. For many of us, a nice hot cup of coffee is the highlight of our morning – it’s what gets us up and out of bed!

Aside from being oh-so-delicious, did you know there are also many brain health benefits of coffee?

In fact, studies show coffee is linked to a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Studies also show the same rings true for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

While previous research has shown that coffee consumption is directly associated with a decreased risk of these mental diseases, researchers from Krembil Brain Institute wanted to find out why.

Which compounds in coffee are affecting the brain? And more specifically, how are they affecting the brain as we age?
 
 

A New Study Explains the Brain Health Benefits of Coffee

For this study, researchers examined three different types of coffee:

  1. Light roast
  2. Dark roast
  3. Decaffeinated dark roast

 

 
 
Upon initial investigation into the brain health benefits of coffee, Dr. Ross Mancini (a research fellow in medicinal chemistry) noted the caffeinated and decaffeinated dark roast “had identical potencies.”
 
In other words, coffee’s ability to protect the brain is not the result of caffeine. (Another reason why switching to decaf is probably a good idea!)
 
After the roasting process, Dr. Mancini observed a unique group of compounds emerge. And as it turns out, these compounds (known as phenylindanes) were the only compound researched in the study that inhibited the protein fragments (beta amyloid and tau) from interacting. These protein fragments are typically seen in people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
 
And here’s another interesting observation: Dark roasted coffee appeared to be more protective compared to light roasted coffee. Another Starbucks Venti Caffé Verona please!
 
If you’re looking to boost your energy naturally, here are 5 Natural Energy Foods to Boost Your Brain Power and Increase Productivity
 
 

The Health Benefits of Coffee Are Vast, But Coffee Is Not a Cure-All

Since this was the first time analyzing the effect of phenylindanes on these proteins, Dr. Mancini explained: “The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream, or cross the blood-brain barrier.”

Even though we still need more research, these results pave the way for a new train of thought.

“What this study does is take the epidemiological evidence and try to refine it and to demonstrate that there are indeed components within coffee that are beneficial to warding off cognitive decline,” says Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute. “It’s interesting but are we suggesting that coffee is a cure? Absolutely not.”
 

 
 

Pour Another Cup of That Brain-Boosting Goodness!

When it comes to protecting your overall brain health, scientists are continuing to discover new health benefits of coffee. And thanks to this new study, we now know the reason why coffee can help with age-related cognitive decline.

Getting older is tough, but there is good news. By making a few simple lifestyle changes, you can slow down the aging process. So, bring on the coffee!

After drinking your cup of joe in the morning, set aside a few minutes for yoga: Here are 5 Anti-Aging Benefits of this Ancient Practice

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Kaitlin Vogel

Kaitlin has worked as a professional writer and editor in New York City for over seven years. Beyond her professional experience in journalism and psychology, it is her keen interest in personal development that has driven every one of her career decisions thus far. She's committed to creating content that matters.

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