Annually all over the world about 500 billion coffee cups are drunk, but this isn’t just an energy drink, according to science it is much more! It seems indeed that in a cup of coffee there are substance able to protect the brain from degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer and Parkinson. This is the result of a very recent scientific research published a few months ago in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience by a team from the Krembil Research Institute and University of Toronto, Canada (Mancini et al, Oct 2018).
The scientists started from the consideration that, on the basis of previous researches, coffee seems to play a protective role on the brain by counteracting the degenerative illnesses. They tried to understand the underlying process. In order to do this, the researchers analyzed the ability to inhibit the aggregation of amyloid-beta and tau proteins, what is considered the main cause of Alzheimer and Parkinson, of three types of coffee extracts, light roasted coffee, dark roasted coffee and decaffeinated dark roasted coffee, and of six compounds found in coffee such as caffeine, quercetin and phenylindanes. Phenylindanes in particular are substances formed during the roasting of coffee beans and are in higher amount in dark roasted coffee. Well, the scientists have observed that dark toasted coffee is more efficient in inhibiting the aggregation of tau and amyloid-beta proteins, that also decaffeinated coffee shows this ability and that caffeine alone cannot inhibit this aggregation. As a consequence, caffeine isn’t the compound that makes the coffee a neuroprotective drink. On the contrary, the phenylindanes seem to be the substances that give to the coffee this powerful effect. Other studies are needed in order to better understand this action and to observe if it is possible to develop new treatments for the degenerative illnesses based on phenylindanes but this, of course, is really a great result. However, as highlighted by the author of the study Dr Weaver, the coffee shouldn’t be considered as a cure but, in any case, this drink is a powerful tool if included in a well balanced diet to help us live healthier and longer.