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Drinking coffee may do more than just keep you awake. A new study suggests that drinking coffee may do more than just keep you awake but also keep your mental health in check later in life.

Swedish and Danish researchers tracked coffee consumption in a group of 1,409 middle-age men and women for an average of 21 years. After adjusting for numerous socioeconomic and health factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the scientists found that the subjects who had reported drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 % less likely to have developed dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less. During that time, 61 participants developed dementia, 48 with Alzheimer’s disease. People who drank more than five cups a day also were at reduced risk of dementia, the researchers said, but there were not enough people in this group to draw statistically significant conclusions.

The researchers however do not yet advocate drinking coffee as a preventive health measure. As there is no evidence that for non-consumers, taking up drinking coffee would have a protective effect.

There are several possibilities as to why coffee might reduce the risk of dementia later in life. Earlier studies have linked coffee consumption with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, which in turn has been associated with a greater risk of dementia. In animal studies, caffeine has been shown to reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, coffee may have an antioxidant effect in the bloodstream, reducing vascular risk factors for dementia.

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It came as a surprise to me that coffee can have such profound health benefits. The only time that I drank coffee was when I was a kid, and I had a hard time falling asleep that same night. I never drank coffee since then.
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