American researchers say drinking regular coffee, tea and cocoa drinks, rather than other drinks, can lower the risk of developing dementia, dementia-related cognitive impairment and stroke.
The work was released Thursday in the journal Neurology. It is the largest ever study of coffee consumption and dementia, and it showed that there are positive associations between regular coffee consumption and reduced risk of dementia.
“You would need to drink coffee daily to have a benefit,” says lead researcher Levent Eldemir of the Harvard School of Public Health. “But for those who drink more than three cups a day, it seems to be protective.”
Eldemir says he and his colleagues are not sure why drinking coffee seems to be protective but say that it could be because coffee can help keep the part of the brain responsible for memory and thinking in good working order. It also might be because caffeine has powerful protective effects on the brain.
The study followed more than 80,000 adults who answered questions about their drink habits and characteristics over 12 years. Most were white, and the researchers, who asked them to rate their consumption of regular coffee, decaffeinated coffee, cola, cola, coffee drink, caffeinated tea, decaffeinated tea, cocoa and cocoa drink, tea, cocoa, decaffeinated and tea drink.
All of the participants were cognitively normal at the beginning of the study. About a third of them developed dementia during the 12 years.
The researchers also looked at potential ties between differences in the lifestyle of the participants. There was evidence of a link between coffee consumption and a lower risk of stroke. They also saw that those who drank more tea, cocoa and coffee drank more tea, cocoa and chocolate.