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Three Cups of Coffee a Day Could Delay the Onset of Dementia

Like a cup of coffee in the morning? Well you might want to add one in the afternoon and another after dinner, as recent research suggests that drinking three cups of a coffee a day could dramatically lower your risk of developing dementia.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and was published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Participants in the study included 124 adults between the ages of 65 and 88, all of whom showed signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to dementia. All were cognitively assessed and a blood sample was taken to measure plasma caffeine levels.

The participants’ cognitive status was monitored for 2-4 years. Participants who later progressed to dementia had initial plasma caffeine levels that were 51% lower than those who did not progress to dementia. None of the participants who had initial plasma caffeine levels of 1,200 ng/ml or higher developed dementia.

The main source of caffeine for the participants was coffee, leading the researchers to believe that coffee consumption could reduce the risk or delay the onset of dementia.

Beyond cognitive function, previous studies have shown that coffee has a number of other health benefits. These benefits are generally attributed to the powerful antioxidants found in coffee called polyphenols and include reducing the risk of developing diabetes, prostate cancer, cirrhosis and oral cavities.

One note to coffee drinkers: be careful how you take your coffee. A double latte with whipped cream and three sugars may provide the cognitive health benefits seen here, but the high fat and sugar content can have other negative effects.

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