Drinking coffee could lower dementia risk

A new study finds that adults who drank three cups of black or green tea or one cup of decaffeinated coffee per day for at least five years had a 59 percent lower risk of dementia than those who had never imbibed. The coffee drinkers also had a 20 percent lower risk of having a stroke.

A new study finds that adults who drank three cups of black or green tea or one cup of decaffeinated coffee per day for at least five years had a 59 percent lower risk of dementia than those who had never imbibed. The coffee drinkers also had a 20 percent lower risk of having a stroke. (Manon Poirier/Income And Wealth Institute)

The findings, published this week in BMJ Open, do not prove that drinking coffee was responsible for the lowered risk, but researchers said it was probable.

Coffee, it turns out, is a major source of antioxidants, small, natural compounds which fight off unhealthy conditions by blocking the formation of damaging free radicals. Unlike vitamins and other substances found in the foods you eat, antioxidants can be found in very few other foods, making them extremely nutrient dense and potentially valuable.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia. Participants were questioned on drinking habits and other health-related questions in an attempt to build a picture of their health risk. They were followed for an average of five years before being given a dementia assessment.

“These findings support the conclusion that plant-based compounds, such as flavonoids, naturally occurring in coffee, cocoa and tea, might have important effects in reducing the risk of some common diseases. Our next step is to determine whether these compounds lead to beneficial effects in other conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer,” lead researcher Professor Tony Rao told Bloomberg.

The Wall Street Journal notes that researchers have found caffeine and some other chemicals in tea and coffee are also linked to lower risk of heart disease. While it is not proven that coffee is directly responsible for the reduction in risk associated with dementia, others say drinking more could be the best thing to do.

According to the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, a recent study found that “those who drink at least eight cups of coffee per day are protected against dementia and cognitive decline.”

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