Neuroscience continues to reveal interesting facts about the positive effects of some of our favorite drinks and foods, such as the finding that coffee and (to a lesser extent) tea and chocolate tend to make brains healthier and more resilient.
According to a joint study from the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University, published last January in Neurochemical Research magazine, a methylxanthines-a class of chemical found in coffee, tea and dark chocolate (cacao) “has clear effects on neuronal network activity, promotes sustained cognitive performance and can protect neurons against dysfunction and death in animal models of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”
The study also revealed that xanthine metabolites--a chemical released when our brain processes caffeine, “may also contribute to the beneficial effects of coffee, tea, and cacao on brain health.”
Additionally, a meta-analysis of 11 studies(11 articles for coffee, 8 articles for tea, and 4 articles for coffee plus tea) on the effects of coffee on brain health, published in World Journal of Surgical Oncology, discovered that both coffee and tea (and thus, by extension, cacao) can decrease the brain cancer risk.
Researchers discovered a statistically significant protective effect of coffee consumption and brain cancer risk, especially in Asian populations. Yet, the link between the risk of brain cancer and tea consumption was non-significant in the whole result, but significant in American populations.
Findings suggest that higher consumption of coffee may contribute to the lower development of brain cancer in Asian populations. Tea consumption had an inverse association for the brain cancer risk in American populations, instead of other populations.
Finally, a groundbreaking study at Okayama University showed that intake of coffee components, CA and CGA, improved the antioxidative properties of glial cells and prevented rotenone-induced neurodegeneration in both, the brain and myenteric plexus. In layman’s terms, caffeine makes the brain more resilient and flexible.
Several studies also demonstrate the brain-boosting powers of dark chocolate, including enhanced cognitive function, lower dementia risk, and improved performance on memory activities.
One review study found that epicatechin, a flavanol found in cocoa, tea, berries, and other fruits, yields cognitive benefits—especially in tasks involving memory, executive function, and processing speed in older adults.
Therefore, to keep your brain healthy as you age, you should be consuming coffee, tea, or cacao.
According to studies, the ideal daily dosage of coffee is about six to eight 8oz cups, ideally consumed before 2 pm in order not to affect the night sleep. Yet, this might sound too much for many, so you can replace a cup or two with an ounce of dark chocolate, and still boost your brain.
This is fantastic news, isn’t it?