Washington: Love your coffee? Turns out, there could be more to that morning jolt of goodness than a boost in energy and attention. Drinking coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
According to a new study, approximately 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide each year. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Frontiers in Neuroscience
“Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Donald Weaver, a researcher. “But we wanted to investigate why that is — which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.”
The team of researchers chose to investigate three different types of coffee – light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast.
“The caffeinated and de-caffeinated dark roast both had identical potencies in our initial experimental tests,” said Ross Dr. Mancini, a researcher. “So we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine.”
Dr. Mancini then identified a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, which emerge as a result of the roasting process for coffee beans. Phenylindanes are unique in that they are the only compound investigated in the study that prevents – or rather, inhibit – both beta-amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, from clumping. “So phenylindanes are a dual inhibitor. Very interesting, we were not expecting that,” said Dr. Weaver.
As roasting leads to higher quantities of phenylindanes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.
“It’s the first time anybody’s investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” said Dr. Mancini. “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.”