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All, It's pretty much unimaginable that anyone reading this would not by now have heard about the cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate, both in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease and even improving cardiovascular (athletic) performance. And you've probably heard the news that chocolate is good for brain health & cognition as well. Nevertheless, this new study , posted by Al, is noteworthy for several reasons. In it, researchers followed 530 elderly people over four years to see how their dietary habits, particularly wrt chocolate consumption, correlated with cognitive decline. The first surprising thing was the magnitude of the benefits of chocolate on cognitive health. Even after controlling for a host of potentially confounding risk factors, they found that chocolate consumption was associated with a whopping 40% reduction in likelihood of cognitive decline over the four year period. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that this benefit was only seen in participants who eschewed caffeine. In fact, if limited to folks who consumed less than 75mg of caffeine a day (~1 cup of coffee), the cognitive protection associated with chocolate was even greater - a 50% lower risk of cognitive decline. They don't report it explicitly in the abstract (full text not available), but presumably caffeine drinkers did not see a significant cognitive benefit (nor harm!) from also consuming chocolate. This suggests the cognitive benefits of chocolate overlap and are hence redundant with (and not additive with) the beneficial effects of coffee/tea polyphenols and/or the caffeine they contain. Nevertheless, I'm going to continue consuming both cacao and caffeine products, because this is only one study, and heck, I enjoy them both ☺. --Dean ---------  J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 May 6. [Epub ahead of print] Chocolate Consumption is Associated with a Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline. Moreira A, Di?genes MJ, de Mendon?a A, Lunet N, Barros H. Abstract Cocoa-related products like chocolate have taken an important place in our food habits and culture. In this work, we aim to examine the relationship between chocolate consumption and cognitive decline in an elderly cognitively healthy population. In the present longitudinal prospective study, a cohort of 531 participants aged 65 and over with normal Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE; median 28) was selected. The median follow-up was 48 months. Dietary habits were evaluated at baseline. The MMSE was used to assess global cognitive function at baseline and at follow-up. Cognitive decline was defined by a decrease =/> 2 points in the MMSE score between evaluations. Relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) estimates were adjusted for age, education, smoking, alcohol drinking, body mass index, hypertension, and diabetes. Chocolate intake was associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline (RR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.38-0.92). This protective effect was observed only among subjects with an average daily consumption of caffeine lower than 75 mg (69% of the participants; RR = 0.50, 95% CI 0.31-0.82). To our knowledge, this is the first prospective cohort study to show an inverse association between regular long-term chocolate consumption and cognitive decline in humans. KEYWORDS: Adenosine A2A receptors; Alzheimer?s disease; chocolate; cognition; prevention; theobromine PMID: 27163823
[Note: This is my first thread on the new "General Health & Longevity" forum - thanks for making it!] Yet another study has found drinking a surprisingly large number of cups of coffee per day to be health promoting. This new study  in the Journal Circulation by Harvard researchers (press release, including a video, here) used epidemiological data from 74,890 women in the Nurses' Health Study, 93,054 women in the Nurses' Health Study 2, and 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Participants completed food questionnaires every four years during an average follow-up period of 22.5 years, providing researchers with coffee consumption data. There appeared to be a shallow, U-shaped mortality curve for coffee drinking, with the greatest reduction in non-smoker mortality (15%) among those who consumed 3-5 cups of coffee per day. Greater than 5 cups per day reduced all-cause mortality by slightly less (12%) when compared to never-drinkers. Both caffeinated and decaf coffee was found to reduce mortality. The causes of death that were significantly lower among coffee drinkers were cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, and suicide. This Harvard study is in agreement with another large, epidemiological study  from earlier this year which found an even greater reduction in all-cause and cause-specific morality among a Japanese cohort of 90,000 people followed for 19 years. It too found a sweet spot around 3-4 cups per day, with a reduction in all-cause mortality of 24%. So once again, coffee is found to be good for you. But remember not to drink it too hot, and be sure to filter it, preferably with a paper filter. ----------  Circulation November 16, 2015, Published online before print doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.017341 Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts Ming Ding1; Ambika Satija1; Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju1; Yang Hu1; Qi Sun2; Jiali Han3; Esther Lopez-Garcia4; Walter Willett2; Rob M. van Dam5; Frank B. Hu2* Abstract Background—The association between consumption of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and risk of mortality remains inconclusive. Methods and Results—We examined the associations of consumption of total, caffeinated, and decaffeinated coffee with risk of subsequent total and cause-specific mortality among 74,890 women in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), 93,054 women in the NHS 2, and 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Coffee consumption was assessed at baseline using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. During 4,690,072 person-years of follow-up, 19,524 women and 12,432 men died. Consumption of total, caffeinated, and decaffeinated coffee were non-linearly associated with mortality. Compared to non-drinkers, coffee consumption one to five cups/d was associated with lower risk of mortality, while coffee consumption more than five cups/d was not associated with risk of mortality. However, when restricting to never smokers, compared to non-drinkers, the HRs of mortality were 0.94 (0.89 to 0.99) for ≤ 1 cup/d, 0.92 (0.87 to 0.97) for 1.1-3 cups/d, 0.85 (0.79 to 0.92) for 3.1-5 cups/d, and 0.88 (0.78 to 0.99) for > 5 cups/d (p for non-linearity = 0.32; p for trend < 0.001). Significant inverse associations were observed for caffeinated (p for trend < 0.001) and decaffeinated coffee (p for trend = 0.022). Significant inverse associations were observed between coffee consumption and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, and suicide. No significant association between coffee consumption and total cancer mortality was found. Conclusions—Higher consumption of total coffee, caffeinated coffee, and decaffeinated coffee was associated with lower risk of total mortality. PMID: 26572796 ------------  Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;101(5):1029-37. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.104273. Epub 2015 Mar 11. Association of coffee intake with total and cause-specific mortality in a Japanese population: the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. Saito E(1), Inoue M(1), Sawada N(1), Shimazu T(1), Yamaji T(1), Iwasaki M(1), Sasazuki S(1), Noda M(1), Iso H(1), Tsugane S(1). BACKGROUND: Despite the rising consumption of coffee worldwide, few prospective cohort studies assessed the association of coffee intake with mortality including total and major causes of death. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate the association between habitual coffee drinking and mortality from all causes, cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, injuries, and other causes of death in a large-scale, population-based cohort study in Japan. DESIGN: We studied 90,914 Japanese persons aged between 40 and 69 y without a history of cancer, cerebrovascular disease, or ischemic heart disease at the time of the baseline study. Subjects were followed up for an average of 18.7 y, during which 12,874 total deaths were reported. The association between coffee intake and risk of total and cause-specific mortality was assessed by using a Cox proportional hazards regression model with adjustment for potential confounders. RESULTS: We showed an inverse association between coffee intake and total mortality in both men and women. HRs (95% CIs) for total death in subjects who consumed coffee compared with those who never drank coffee were 0.91 (0.86-0.95) for <1 cup/d, 0.85 (0.81-0.90) for 1-2 cups/d, 0.76 (0.70-0.83) for 3-4 cups/d, and 0.85 (0.75-0.98) for >5 cups/d (P-trend < 0.001). Coffee was inversely associated with mortality from heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and respiratory disease. CONCLUSION: With this prospective study, we suggest that the habitual intake of coffee is associated with lower risk of total mortality and 3 leading causes of death in Japan. © 2015 American Society for Nutrition. PMID: 25762807