Coffee could help protect against Alzheimer's disease

Leslie Hanson
November 8, 2018

Turns out, there could be more to that morning jolt of goodness than a boost in energy and attention. Drinking coffee reduces the risk of development of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Researchers from the Krembil Brain Institute point to chemical compounds called "phenylindanes" that are believed to hold the key to preventing our brains from falling victim to the debilitating conditions.

And although other studies have found health benefits in coffee, this study surprisingly found that dark roasts help lower your chances of developing both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and that both caffeinated and decaffeinated roasts were effective. The researchers wanted to investigate that which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline. However, as demonstrated in this study, the protective effect has not caffeine, and a substance contained in coffee.

It could be due to phenylindanes - an antioxidant compound found in roasted coffee beans. The researchers believe that these coffee antioxidants protect against the development of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, because they have the potential to inhibit proteins beta-amyloid and Tau proteins that accumulate in the brain and cause damage, leading to the development of unsafe diseases.

But before any talk of alternative treatments is tabled, more research needs to be done.

A new study from the Krembil Brain Institute investigated the compounds in three different roasts: light, dark, and decaffeinated dark roast.


Dr Weaver said: 'So phenylindanes are a dual-inhibitor.

Phenylindane is formed during the roasting of coffee beans and higher quantities are found in darker roasts, according to the study, which was published in "Frontiers in Neuroscience".

'It's the first time anybody's investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. "Very interesting, we were not expecting that", said Dr. Weaver. "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".

'If you have a complicated compound, it's nicer to grow it in a crop, harvest the crop, grind the crop out and extract it than try to make it'.

But, he admits, there is much more research needed before it can translate into potential therapeutic options. "Absolutely not", said Weaver.

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