Drinking coffee could protect both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, according to a new study by the Krembil Brain Institute.
The researchers investigated three different types of coffee – light roast, dark roast, and dark-roast caffeine.
Dr Donald Weaver, the lead author of the study, said: "Coffee consumption seems to be somewhat correlated with the reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. But we wanted to investigate why this is the case – which associations are involved and how they can affect the aging-related disability. "
"Caffeine and decaffeinated dark bread rolls had identical properties in our initial experimental tests. So we noticed early that the protective effect could not be due to caffeine. "
The researchers identified a group of compounds known as phenyldanans, which arise as a result of the baking process for coffee beans. Phenylinosides are unique in being the only compound investigated in the study that inhibits the accumulation of beta amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
As baking leads to higher amounts of phenylthenes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.
"It's the first time anyone has researched how phenylindans interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream or cross the blood-brain barrier. "