If you enjoy coffee, you’ll be pleased to know that your java habit may protect you from developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease…

There could be more to that morning jolt of caffeine – drinking coffee may also protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

This is according to a new study out of the Krembil Brain Institute.

“Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and [or] 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.”

Dr. Weaver enlisted Dr. Ross Mancini, a research fellow in medicinal chemistry and Yanfei Wang, a biologist, to help. The team chose to investigate three different types of coffee – light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast.

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“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.”

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It’s thanks to roasted coffee beans

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 prevent – 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.

As roasting leads to higher quantities of phenylindanes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.

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.”

Source: University Health Network via www.sciencedaily.com

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