Study Finds Compounds in Coffee Protect Against Dementia and Parkinson’s (Plus, How to Maximize Benefits)

Study Finds Compounds in Coffee Protect Against Dementia and Parkinson’s (Plus, How to Maximize Benefits)

  • New research says two compounds in coffee work together to protect your brain: caffeine and EHT, a derivative of serotonin.
  • Caffeine and EHT protect against the accumulation of harmful proteins associated with Parkinson’s and dementia, according to the study.
  • Coffee is already loaded with benefits: It’s a great source of antioxidants, it boosts your mood, and it makes you smarter by increasing neuronal firing in the brain.
  • To keep all of coffee’s beneficial compounds in your brew, use a brewing method with a metal filter, like a French press or moka pot.

Scientists at Rutgers University have identified a new molecule in coffee that protects the brain against degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia. If you follow the Bulletproof Diet, you already know that coffee is good for you. This new research provides more evidence that your morning cup of joe helps you perform better and live longer. Here’s what you should know about the study, including recommended brewing methods to support your brain health.

What the coffee and dementia study found?

Researchers studying MRIs of brain

Studies have already demonstrated that drinking coffee reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s, possibly by protecting your brain cells from neuron degeneration.[1] Caffeine usually gets all the credit, but coffee beans are magical bundles of compounds that researchers still don’t completely understand.

The scientists at Rutgers focused on EHT (Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide), an anti-inflammatory found in the waxy coating of coffee beans. EHT is derived from the neurotransmitter serotonin, the happy hormone. In the study, researchers gave mice small doses of caffeine or EHT. They found that EHT works synergistically with caffeine to protect the brain against the accumulation of harmful proteins associated with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Translation: Caffeinated coffee protects your brain. This adds to other research that says coffee reduces your risk of diabetes, boosts your mood, and makes you smarter.[2] Coffee is also a powerful source of antioxidants, which reduce your risk of chronic degenerative diseases and keep your brain sharp as you age.[3]

What about decaf? While beneficial compounds are also found in decaffeinated coffee, the Rutgers study says that EHT works best when it’s paired with caffeine. Keep reading to find out how you can get the most brain-brewing benefits out of your next cup.

Related: This Is Your Brain on Coffee (Plus, a Caffeine Effects Timeline)

How to get the most out of your brew

Man enjoying a cup of coffee

Scientists haven’t measured the best way to increase levels of EHT, but the brewing method you choose plays a part. Here’s why. In “The Bulletproof Diet,” I talk about cafestol and kahweol — two potent anti-inflammatories naturally found in coffee. You’ll get more of those brain-boosting oils when you brew with a metal filter, such as with a French press or moka pot. These brewing methods preserve as many oils as possible in your mug. I’m making an educated guess that a metal filter does a better job at ensuring EHT also finds its way into your cup.

Love the convenience of your drip machine? You won’t get as many of those beneficial oils if you use a paper filter because it traps most of the cafestol and kahweol.[4]  Paper also changes the taste of your coffee, and most people don’t clean their coffee makers well enough. Gross.

If you don’t have a taste for coffee, you might be brewing it incorrectly. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Use high-quality beans: Quality counts. Low-quality coffee beans carry carcinogenic mold toxins that can impair your immune system and give you brain fog.[5] Drink lab-tested, organic beans so you get all the benefits of coffee without any harmful side effects.
  • Try different brewing methods: Drip machines are finicky and don’t give you a lot of control over the final brew. My go-to recommendation is French press coffee, which gives you deep, full-bodied flavor and all those beneficial oils. Check out this coffee brew guide for more tips.
  • Sample different roasts: Light, medium, medium-dark, dark — everyone has different preferences when it comes to coffee flavor profiles, and you’ll never know what you prefer until you try it.
  • Add butter: Butter makes everything better. Bulletproof Coffee consists of grass-fed butter, high-quality coffee beans, and Brain Octane Oil, a purified form of MCT oil derived from coconuts. Blend those ingredients together and enjoy a frothy latte that gives you laser-sharp focus and energy — without the caffeine crash. Did I mention it tastes amazing?

Related: Dark Roast Coffee May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Study Says

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