The Jerusalem Post

Two cups of espresso could help ward of Alzheimer's - study

  (photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)
(photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)

Italian scientists: Coffee could avert accumulation of tau proteins and guard against Alzheimer's disease.

Caffeine is a daily ritual for many, serving as the spark that ignites their day. 

For coffee lovers, sipping on a cup of espresso isn't just about kickstarting the morning; it's about nurturing a beautiful habit. 

Study: Espresso delivers far more than a caffeine buzz

A groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at the University of Verona in Italy, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reveals that espresso delivers far more than a caffeine buzz.

The Italian scientists found that an espresso extract can inhibit the accumulation of tau protein in the brain, a protein closely linked to Alzheimer's disease.


Tau proteins play a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity of the brain in healthy individuals. However, the build-up of these proteins is considered a hallmark of various neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease. 

To shed light on how regular espresso consumption impacts the development and behavior of these problematic protein aggregates, the researchers embarked on this groundbreaking study.

As tau protein fibers accumulate in the brain, individuals start experiencing symptoms such as memory loss, impaired judgment, wandering, and mood swings. Alzheimer's disease is one of today's most challenging health crises, mainly due to the aging global population. Some studies even suggest that it has become the third leading cause of death. Consequently, researchers are increasingly focused on preventing the build-up of tau proteins as a critical strategy to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.

Espresso, a globally beloved beverage, is the foundation for various coffee variations.

Italian study: The details

In their latest research, the scientists meticulously analyzed the molecular composition of espresso coffee extract, pinpointing its primary components. Their selection included caffeine, trigonelline, alkaloids, and flavonoids genistein and theobromine. These components were incubated alongside a truncated form of the tau protein for up to 40 hours.


The findings are groundbreaking, revealing that all coffee extract, caffeine, and genistein possess biological properties that prevent aggregation and thickening and even inhibit the return of the tau protein, the study said.

Espresso compounds hindered the accumulation of tau protein and exhibited the capacity to bind to pre-existing tau fibrils. As the concentration of espresso extract and caffeine or genistein compounds increased, the tau fibers grew shorter. The most significant impact was observed when utilizing a complete espresso extract.

According to the study authors, consuming two or three cups of espresso each day provides substantial amounts of caffeine and genistein, capable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier and exerting their neuroprotective effects. 

Given that the typical concentration of tau proteins in the brain is about 25 times lower than the levels tested in this study, there is a compelling hypothesis that coffee consumption might play a pivotal role in averting the accumulation of these proteins and guarding against Alzheimer's disease.

Previous studies

It's worth noting that this isn't the first study to link coffee consumption to Alzheimer's. In 2018, researchers discovered that regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's or Parkinson's later in life. 

Scientists at the Krembil Brain Institute in Canada examined various coffee blends, including lightly roasted (light), deep (dark), and dark decaffeinated coffee.

Their investigation unveiled a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, which form during the coffee bean roasting process. These phenylindanes contribute to the characteristic bitterness of coffee and thwart the interaction between amyloid-beta and tau proteins – two proteins whose deposits are commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.