Do You Enjoy a Daily Espresso? You May Be Protecting Your Brain From Alzheimer’s Proteins

When you’re choosing a coffee drink in the morning, you have plenty of options, from a latte or a cappuccino to an Americano or café au lait. A new study finds that the type of coffee you choose, though, could benefit your brain health.

Research recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at the impact of espresso on one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers say the drink has been linked with a protective effect against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, and they wanted to study different compounds within espresso to see how they impacted the tau protein, which accumulates in Alzheimer’s patients.

Espresso in glass with cookie on the side

The authors write, “Numerous studies report that moderate and, sometimes, even high coffee consumption exerts a neuroprotective action against two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, i.e., Parkinson′s and Alzheimer′s. Many coffee compounds display beneficial properties in alleviating disease symptoms, for instance by reducing cognitive and memory impairment, as antioxidants, or by preventing amyloid formation and neurotoxicity.”

Through in vitro lab tests, the researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to characterize the espresso coffee extract’s main components. They focused on the alkaloids caffeine and trigonelline, the flavonoid genistein, and theobromine, which is also found in chocolate. They took these components, along with espresso extract itself, and incubated them with a shortened form of tau protein for up to 40 hours.

The researchers found that with increasingly higher concentrations of espresso extract, tau fibrils were shorter and didn’t accumulate into larger sheets. This was also the case, to a slightly lesser extent, with caffeine and genistein. Additionally, they found that the espresso extract and caffeine were able to bind to preformed tau fibrils.

Espresso machine making coffee

The researchers write, “Based on the bioavailability of coffee components in the brain, and on the results of our study, we expect that moderate coffee consumption may provide a sufficient amount of bioactive molecules to act separately or synergistically as modulators of tau protein aggregation and toxicity.”

They add that though more research is needed, the findings could help lead toward using bioactive compounds as a treatment against neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

If you feel like adding some espresso to your diet in light of these findings, learn more about choosing sustainable coffee here!

Woman holding espresso in hand
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