How Coffee Protects the Brain

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Numerous studies have shown there are health benefits to drinking coffee — including a protective effect on brain health. Now, researchers at the Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto have identified some ways that coffee supports cognitive function and helps prevent mental decline.

According to the Canadian researchers, the key to the protective effect of coffee on the brain is not caffeine, but certain compounds released during the coffee roasting process. The researchers analyzed the effects of caffeinated dark roast, caffeinated light roast, and decaffeinated dark roast coffees. They determined that compounds called phenylindanes, which form when coffee beans are roasted, help prevent the build-up of toxic proteins such as tau and beta-amyloid in the brain — hallmarks of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Longer roasting times cause coffee beans to produce more phenylindanes, suggesting that dark roast — regular or decaf — has the strongest protective effect on the brain. One caution, however: the researchers note that coffee is not a cure for neurodegenerative diseases.

Sourced from: Frontiers in Neuroscience