• Does Coffee Combat Brain Diseases?


Does Coffee Combat Brain Diseases?

Jan 13 2019

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Almost 2 billion cups of latte, americano, espresso and plain old instant are consumed each day. In UK homes, it seems that instant is still king - with over 80% of UK households buying instant rather than making a daily espresso - especially among older people.

But are those people missing out not only on a great drink, but also on a drink that can bring many health benefits. Certainly, if a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled Synergistic neuroprotection by coffee components eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide and caffeine in models of Parkinson's disease and DLB - coffee can provide benefits against brain diseases.

Coffee compounds - an eclectic mix

Coffee beans contains hundreds, if not thousands, of compounds that contribute to the aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee. There are myriad of compounds that are released when you brew or extract from a ground coffee bean. The most important types of compounds for coffee drinkers are those that affect the taste and aroma profile of each bean - a process that can be controlled in the roasting process.

Sugars react with proteins during the roasting process to produce over 800 different volatile compounds - although not all are found in all beans. A technique ideally placed to screen for compounds in a sample is chromatography, a process described in the article, Sensitive and Robust Screening of Hundreds of PPCP Compounds Using Online SPE-LC-MS/MS.

Caffeine, a stimulant, is probably the most well-known chemical in a cup of coffee - especially those cups drunk first thing in the morning before we traipse off to work and college. But it seems that coffee also contains chemicals that can help ward off diseases. But in the PNAS paper referenced above, it is the compound known as EHT that could provide benefits in fighting brain diseases.

EHT - a beneficial fatty acid

The study looked at the combined effect of eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) and caffeine on protein accumulation in the brains of mice. It is protein accumulation that is linked to Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia - the third most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Interestingly, using caffeine or EHT on its own did not have the same effect.

But with coffee containing hundreds of different compounds, this research may just be one piece of the jigsaw. M. Maral Mouradian, a Rutgers professor who led the research said in a statement:

EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies. It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don’t over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences.

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