A new study conducted in Hamburg, Germany, has found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day can improve brain structure and potentially reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. The study, which involved more than 2,000 people between the ages of 45 and 74, compared four groups of coffee drinkers – less than 1 cup a day, 1-2 cups a day, 3-4 cups a day and 5-6 cups a day.
The results showed that those who drank three to four cups of coffee a day had the strongest brain structure when looking at several factors including preserved cortical thickness, which is generally associated with higher intelligence. The improvement was seen to increase from those who did not drink coffee to those who drank more.
However, the study design was not perfect as it was conducted on a relatively small and homogeneous group. The authors also noted that those who drank more coffee were healthier and more educated at baseline, so these potential confounding factors cannot be ruled out. They also wrote that more research is needed to determine whether decaffeinated coffee has similar effects.
Nevertheless, these initial findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting the idea that coffee is good for the brain and overall health. Coffee has been shown to slow cognitive decline and potentially reduce the risks of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It also reduces the incidence of cardiovascular and other diseases as well as neurological metabolic liver conditions according to a 2017 meta-analysis. Although not all studies looked at exact number of cups some suggest three to four cups for optimal benefit.