Two compounds in coffee may work together to fight Parkinson’s
12/08/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Two compounds in coffee may work together to fight Parkinson’s

Coffee can boost your energy levels and make you feel alert, thanks to a natural stimulant called caffeine. Now, a recent study suggests that caffeine may work with another compound in coffee to fight Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking and coordination.

Compounds in coffee can help fight Parkinson’s

Previous studies have shown that drinking coffee in moderation can help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. While caffeine has long been credited as coffee’s special neuroprotective agent, coffee beans actually contain more than a thousand other active compounds. It’s unclear if these compounds work with caffeine to support brain health.

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In their study, the researchers focused on a fatty acid derivative of serotonin – the hormone that stabilizes our mood and feelings of well-being. That derivative is called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT), and it is found in the waxy coating of coffee beans. EHT is present in many types of coffee but the amount varies.

The researchers wanted to know whether EHT and caffeine work together for brain protection. To that end, they gave mice small doses of either caffeine or EHT or both.

Each compound alone was not effective, but when given together, caffeine and EHT were able to keep harmful proteins from accumulating in the brain. These findings suggest that the combination of caffeine and EHT can slow the progression of diseases marked by abnormal protein clumping within brain cells, like Parkinson’s.

The researchers said more studies are needed to figure out the right amounts and ratio of caffeine and EHT that would confer the same protective effect on the human brain.

Because coffee is such a complex cocktail of compounds, it’s possible that other compounds in coffee may play a beneficial role in protecting the brain from various diseases. This means there will need to be a great deal more research before experts can fully unravel the spectrum of coffee’s benefits.

More benefits of coffee for the brain

When consumed in moderation, coffee can be very good for your brain. Aside from protecting against Parkinson’s, coffee can improve various aspects of brain function, such as attention and reaction time, by stimulating the central nervous system.

Some studies also suggest that caffeine in coffee can have a positive effect on short- and long-term memory. In one study, for instance, when participants consumed a caffeine tablet after studying a series of images, their ability to recognize the images 24 hours later was improved. Additionally, caffeine appeared to make memories more resistant to being forgotten.

Regular coffee consumption has also been associated with a lower risk of depression, a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest. Experts believe this association is due to the caffeine in coffee.

Other known benefits of coffee include the following:

  • Improves workout performance
  • Lowers cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels
  • May lower your risk of heart disease
  • Aids in weight loss

Considerations when drinking coffee

While coffee provides a host of health benefits, there are a few potential side effects you should be wary of, like elevated anxiety levels, poor sleep quality and regular headaches. As such, it’s important to drink coffee in moderation.

But how much coffee can you safely drink in a day? Experts say drinking up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day – equivalent to four cups of coffee daily – is safe for most healthy adults.

Keep in mind that other foods and drinks are also high in caffeine, such as green tea and chocolate. Take these into account before increasing your coffee intake. Ideally, your coffee shouldn’t contain added flavorings or extra sugar. It’s best to brew your own coffee at home and use a natural sweetener, such as honey or unrefined sugar, to keep your sugar and calorie intake in check.

Sources:

ScienceDaily.com

Healthline.com 1

Healthline.com 2

EatThis.com 1

EatThis.com 2

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