Studies: stronger, better is - coffee protects our brain

Coffee – a natural ally of brain health

Coffee is one of the favorite drinks of the Germans. It awakens the energies, motivates and stimulates. What was previously unknown: coffee protects our brains from dementias such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The stronger the beans roast, the more effective the protective function, reports a Canadian research group in a recent study.

Contrary to previous hypotheses, health benefits deriving from the consumption of coffee are increasingly being discovered. Researchers at the Canadian Krembil Research Institute in Toronto have recently discovered that coffee consumption reduces the likelihood of developing dementia such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. For the protective effect, in particular the compounds appear to be responsible, which arise during the roasting process of the coffee beans. The results of the study were recently published in the journal "Frontiers in Neuroscience".

A Canadian research team recently discovered that coffee compounds created during the roasting process protect the brain from cognitive decline. (Image: dimakp / fotolia.com)

Coffee is better than its reputation

Is coffee healthy or harmful? Numerous studies have clashed with this question in recent years. In the past, coffee was considered rather unhealthy because it was said to have a dehydrating effect which is now considered to be refuted. In fact, coffee is healthier than most people believe. It is calming and stimulating at the same time and should prevent type II diabetes and heart disease. The latest research also suggests that coffee can protect our brains from neurodegenerative diseases. However, high consumption of coffee can also contribute to hyperacidity and thus promote stomach and reflux problems.

Roasting brings the protective effect

A Canadian scientific team has shown that drinking certain coffees can be beneficial for brain health. But how does the popular hot drink support cognitive function? Researchers found the basis of protective mechanisms not in caffeine, but in compounds released during the roasting of coffee beans.

The same effect for decaffeinated coffee

A coffee with heavily toasted caffeine, a strong decaffeinated roast and a lightly toasted caffeine coffee were examined. The team found that heavily toasted 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 are formed during the roasting process and give the coffee its typical bitter taste.

How do roast compounds protect our brains?

According to the researchers, the roasted coffee compounds ensure that less toxic proteins can bind to the brain. These so-called tau and beta-amyloid proteins are deposited as plaques in the brain and are considered to cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The long roasting process is essential

As the research team points out, a long period of roasting in particular is responsible for the formation of protective compounds for roasting. It does not matter if the coffee has been decaffeinated or not. The strongest protective effect on the brain is therefore based on dark toasted varieties.

Mother Nature is the best chemist

The Canadian team is enthusiastic about the discovery, especially because the protective effect comes from a completely natural process. This does not require synthesis in the laboratory and makes the drug so easy to produce and widely available. "Mother Nature is a chemist much better than us", explains dr. Ross Mancini, one of the study's leading scientists, in a press release about the results of the study.

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 preventing 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)

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