Does coffee, tea or chocolate improve your brain’s health

Written by Diane Archer

You may have read that the different phytochemicals in fruits can be good for your health, protecting you against cardiovascular disease and tumor growth, among other things. Coffee, tea and chocolate also contain phytochemicals. One recent study by the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University finds that these phytochemicals might improve your brain’s health.

The study, published in Neurochemical Research magazine, and reported by Inc., finds that the phytochemical methylxanthines helps the brain, “protecting neurons against dysfunction and death” when examined in animals with stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee, tea and chocolate all contain this phytochemical.

A second phytochemical, xanthine metabolites, which is released after caffeine consumption, could also be beneficial to brain health.

Separately, a meta-analysis of 11 studies, published in World Journal of Surgical Oncology, reveals that coffee and tea might reduce the risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and brain cancer. Specifically, the researchers found that “higher consumption of coffee may contribute to the lower development of brain cancer in Asian populations.”

And, yet another major study at Okayama University found that chemicals in caffeine prevents neurodegeneration in the brain, making it more resilient.

The good news is that coffee is the most common drink after water. The question becomes whether the possible benefits of caffeine for your brain health outweigh its risks. Coffee can be responsible for anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and panic attacks.

According to the studies, you need to drink six or eight eight ounce cups of coffee a day to promote your brain health. Among other things, a good night’s sleep, which drinking too much caffeine may prevent, also promotes good health.

You can replace the coffee with dark chocolate to get the requisite phytochemicals. But, you want to avoid sugar and keep your weight down as well!



  • You don’t address whether or not coffee without caffeine still has the other “good” ingredients mentioned. I drink about 4 to 6 very strong cups of coffee each day but try to not do so after early evening and so avoid sleep problems.

    • It’s the phytochemicals from the caffeine that researchers examined and say may improve your brain’s health. I believe that they did not study the benefits of coffee without caffeine.

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