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Coffee may reduce Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease risk

Coffee may reduce Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease risk

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages worldwide, with approximately 500 billion cups consumed annually.

A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience gives more reasons to sip on your morning cup of coffee. The study suggests that drinking coffee could protect you from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It further adds that dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.

Ross S. Mancini, Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada, and colleagues hypothesized that compounds found in brewed coffee may elicit neuroprotective effects by inhibiting the aggregation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau (AD) or α-synuclein (PD).

Read Also: Hot brew coffee has more health benefits than cold coffee

“Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” says Dr. Donald Weaver, Co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute. “But we wanted to investigate why that is — which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.”

The team 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,” says Dr. Mancini. “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,” says Dr. Weaver.

Also Read: Regular Coffee consumption increases pain threshold

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,” says 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.”

The fact that it’s a natural compound vs. synthetic is also a major advantage, says Dr. Weaver.

“Mother Nature is a much better chemist than we are and Mother Nature is able to make these compounds. 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.

“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 ward off cognitive decline. It’s interesting but are we suggesting that coffee is a cure? Absolutely not.”

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Source: With inputs from Frontiers in Neuroscience

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