According a study recently published in the scientific medical journal, Frontiers in Neuroscience, a new study points toward further research that coffee, including decaffeinated coffee, can protect the brain including protecting again Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. And yes, decaf coffee, can be just effective as caffeinated coffee – according to this study.
Results from previous research suggest that coffee compounds could provide a neuroprotective effect by inhibiting proteins from forming the terminally disruptive clumps and tangles found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients for example.
The study posed the following question:
“Why has previous research found that coffee consumption correlates with lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s?”
According to lead study author Dr Donald Weaver of the Brembil Brain Institute in Toronto Canada, “We wanted to investigate why that is—which compounds [in coffee] are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline."
The research team decided to study several compounds (including caffeine) released during the roasting process in three types of coffee beans as follows:
- caffeinated dark roast
- caffeinated light roast
- decaffeinated dark roast.
The analysis focused on how the compounds interact with amyloid beta and tau, the toxic proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Then, the researchers examined phenylindanes that form during the roasting process and give coffee its bitterness. More than any other compound of those examined in this study, the research team found that the phenylindanes inhibit both amyloid beta and tau under laboratory conditions. In short, phenylindanes are a dual inhibitor.
Phenylindane are present in both caffeinated and decaf coffee and could be central to its neuroprotective effects.
This was a lab study that examined the interaction of coffee compounds with toxic proteins outside the body.
So, therefore, the next step is to find out if the same results turn up in human subjects once ingested.
While the results aren't yet conclusive, the research is an important starting point to investigate how these compounds interact with proteins responsible for such degenerative diseases.
It is vital to point out that the researchers were careful to note that coffee is not a cure for these diseases, but that they are beneficial in warding off cognitive decline.