Coffee – a natural ally of brain health
Coffee is one of the favorite drinks of the Germans. It awakens energies, motivates and stimulates. What was previously unknown: Coffee protects our brains against dementias such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The stronger the degree of roast of the beans, the more effective the protective function, reports a Canadian research team in a recent study.
Contrary to previous assumptions, more and more health benefits of drinking coffee come to light. Researchers at the Canadian Krembil Research Institute in Toronto recently found that coffee consumption reduces the likelihood of developing dementias such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. For the protective effect, in particular compounds seem to be responsible, which arise during the roasting process of the coffee beans. The study results were recently published in the journal "Frontiers in Neuroscience".
A Canadian research team has recently discovered that compounds in coffee created during the roasting process protect the brain from cognitive decline. (Image: dimakp / fotolia.com)
Coffee better than its reputation
Is coffee healthy or harmful? Numerous studies have come up against this question in recent years. In the past, coffee was considered rather unhealthy because it was said to have a dehydrating effect that is now considered refuted. In fact, coffee is healthier than most people believe. It is calming and stimulating at the same time and is supposed to prevent type II diabetes and heart disease. The latest research also suggests that coffee can protect our brain from neurodegenerative diseases. However, high coffee consumption can also contribute to hyperacidity and thus promote stomach problems and reflux.
Roasting brings the protective effect
A Canadian science team has proven that drinking certain coffees can be beneficial to brain health. But how does the popular hot drink support the cognitive function? The researchers found the basis of the protective mechanisms not in caffeine, but in compounds released during roasting of the coffee beans.
Same effect for decaffeinated coffee
A heavily roasted caffeinated coffee, as well as a strong roast decaffeinated as well as a mildly roasted caffeinated coffee were examined. The team found that the heavily roasted varieties, regardless of caffeine, have a stronger protective effect. In further tests, a number of compounds, the so-called phenylindanes, crystallized as responsible for the positive effect. These compounds form during the roasting process and give the coffee its typically bitter taste.
How do the roast compounds protect our brains?
According to the researchers, the roasted compounds in coffee ensure that less toxic proteins can bind to the brain. These so-called tau and beta-amyloid proteins deposit as plaque in the brain and are considered to trigger neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The long roasting process is crucial
As the research team emphasizes, a long roasting time in particular is responsible for the formation of the protective roasting compounds. It does not matter whether the coffee was decaffeinated or not. The strongest protective effect on the brain is therefore based on the dark roasted varieties.
Mother Nature is the best chemist
The Canadian team is excited about the discovery, especially as the protective effect comes from a completely natural process. This requires no synthesis in the laboratory and makes the drug so easy to produce and widely available. "Mother Nature is a much better chemist than us," explains Dr. Ross Mancini, one of the study's leading scientists, in a press release on the study results.
Is coffee now a cure for dementia?
"The purpose of this study was to show that there are actually components in coffee that are useful for warding off cognitive decline," concludes Mancini. These processes are very interesting, but it is still too early to declare coffee as a cure, warns the expert. (Vb)