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Antioxidants in coffee, tea may not help prevent dementia, stroke
February 20th, 2013
05:04 PM ET

Antioxidants in coffee, tea may not help prevent dementia, stroke

Drinking coffee and tea rich in antioxidants may not lower your risk of dementia or having a stroke, according to a new study published Wednesday in the online journal Neurology.

The study may call into question other research suggesting a diet high in antioxidants helps reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

Researchers followed approximately 5,400 people aged 55 years and older for nearly 14 years. The participants had no signs of dementia when they began the study and most had never had a stroke. They were questioned about how often they ate 170 foods over the course of the past year and they were divided into three groups based on the levels of antioxidants in their diet - low, moderate or high.

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help protect your cells and repair cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals, molecules responsible for aging and tissue damage, may be a factor in heart disease, cancer and other disease.

Foods loaded with antioxidants include blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, tomatoes, kale, bell peppers, corn, and spinach. The major antioxidant vitamins are Vitamin C, beta-carotene and Vitamin E. They're largely found in colorful fruits and veggies, especially those that are red, blue, purple, yellow and orange in color.

But most of the antioxidants consumed by study participants came in the form of coffee and tea, said study author Elizabeth Devore of Harvard Medical School and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Approximately 600 people developed dementia and about 600 had a stroke over the course of the study. But those who consumed antixoidant-rich diets did not change their risk of developing brain disease any more than those with low levels in their diets, researchers said.

"These results are interesting because other studies have suggested that antioxidants may help protect against stroke and dementia," said Devore. "It's possible that individual antioxidants, or the main foods that contribute those antioxidants - rather than the total antioxidant level in the diet - contribute to the lower risk of dementia and stroke found in earlier studies."

Dr. Richard Lipton, vice chairman of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine says people tend to think antioxidants are called one thing and all have the same properties. But the paper is clear that 90% of the antioxidants came from coffee and tea and that doesn't have the same protective effect.

"This study is not saying that blueberries don't help you or a Mediterranean diet doesn't help you, it's saying this very specific dietary component doesn't reduce stroke and dementia risk." Lipton told CNN. "This study looked at a certain type of antioxidants primarily from coffee and tea and doesn't speak to antioxidants in fruits and vegetables and the Mediterranean diet."

In fact, the researchers say there is growing evidence that consuming lots of fruits, vegetables and even alcoholic beverages may be linked to a reduced risk of stroke - that specific antioxidant-rich foods and beverages are more important for lowering the risk of stoke than the overall antioxidant capacity of the diet.


soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. BillRubin

    I guess not all anti-oxidants are created equal. This reminds me of how your risk of dying is not decreased by supplementation with anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. If anything, Vitamins A and E, and beta-carotene may increase mortality.

    Source: Am Fam Physician. 2008 Nov 1;78(9):1079-1080.

    February 20, 2013 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Charles

      Please understand that Anti-oxidants do not work for Dementia or Alzheimer's because they do not pass the blood brain barrier. This is proven

      Green tea and most anti-oxidants will not work for the same reason, the brain is very selective of what it allows in the cells. Researchers in 5 countries combined to reverse the memory loss of dementia and mild Alzheimer's stages with diet alone based on targeting the brain with nutrients that do pass the brain barrier. It worked

      just google "MAL ALZHEIMER"

      February 22, 2013 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
  2. boungiorno

    whatever i heard listening to too much bullsht can kill a person to

    February 20, 2013 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. bankrupt1

    I think they are splitting this wrong. Those foods (coffee, tea, spinach, berries, etc) are high in oxalates. Oxalates deplete calcium (you probably want that if you are trying to keep calcium in your bones so you don't get cancer in there?).

    Read more about oxalic acids. There's a group on yahoo that seems to be working on this:

    health. groups. yahoo.com/group/Trying_Low_Oxalates/

    thevpfoundation. org/lowoxalatefoods. htm is a list of ultra low oxalates.

    Oxalates aren't sensitivities or allergies. It's the plants own defense system. Not sure why everyone seems to push the worst offenders (maybe they are trying to make money off of sick people), but they do. takes a long time to find the real problems when you are given such junk for information about health.

    February 21, 2013 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Edilberto Durano

    Of course, coffee could not prevent dementia and stroke. It's just a drink, not some medicinal stuff.
    Ed of HealthWiseCoffee.com

    February 21, 2013 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. nocancer7chuck

    There is a very rare amino acid in green tea that prevents dementia called theanine. This is according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (PubMed). http://bit.ly/afK0hM

    February 21, 2013 at 03:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. livingston1

    Our local news outlet (Phila) just reported this morning that a study found 3 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 30%. Studies are funded by people who want a certain outcome. If you believe every study that comes out you will end up hiding in the corner sucking your thumb. In the past 60+ years you can find a study that supports or denies anything. You need to check to see if the group that funds the study has 'a dog in the fight' .

    February 21, 2013 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BillRubin

      And out of the noise of conflicting studies arise consistent trends that can be identified by appraising the merits and limitations of each study. For example, by excluding industry-funded trials, you can get a better picture of the effect of a certain diet/treatment, if any.

      February 21, 2013 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  7. Wellness with Visi

    Berries! Berries! Berries! Berry have the most powerful anti-oxidant power! Plus they contain essential fibers, vitamins and minerals. Berries are not diuretics either like coffee and tea which can dehydrate the brain, organs and skin. Discover theScandinavianSecrets dot com, berries can lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, increase energy, metabolism and boost immune system and circulation. Caffeinated stimulates are great for short term energy, but the crash they leave behind can lead to adrenal fatigue, binge eating and mental fog. Find the all natural and more balanced approach! Pocket 'energy shots' also raise blood pressure, find the more natural alternative with natural berries and botanicals!

    February 21, 2013 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Charles

    Please understand that Anti-oxidants do not work for Dementia or Alzheimer's because they do not pass the blood brain barrier.

    Green tea and most anti-oxidants will not work for the same reason, the brain is very selective of what it allows in the cells. Researchers in 5 countries combined to reverse the memory loss of dementia and mild Alzheimer's stages with diet alone based on targeting the brain with nutrients that do pass the brain barrier. It worked

    just google "MAL ALZHEIMER"

    February 22, 2013 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. SixDegrees

    The real problem is that most studies involving nutrition are pure rubbish. Tiny samples. In this case, self-reporting. Poor experimental design. Faulty statistical analysis.

    And then there's the penchant for proclaiming any result at all "news". It's deemed noteworthy when a study confirms previous studies – and it is deemed just as noteworthy when a study contradicts previous studies. The morass of non-results is bad science at its worst, but it certainly provides a steady income for uncritical journalists who hype such things.

    February 23, 2013 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Terry Morrison

    There is an article in the February 2013 edition of Scientific American that casts doubts upon the efficacy of antioxidants in healthy individuals. There was some indication it might be helpful in severly injured or ill people, however.

    February 26, 2013 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. john

    http://www.Gofundme.com/24wctc

    February 26, 2013 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 27, 2013 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 28, 2013 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. infinitimel

    I don't think there is anything wrong with consuming coffee in moderation. I think the most troublesome thing is what people put in their coffee ie: double/doubles, triple/triples, even artificial sweeteners. Whether or not I believe the health benefit factors, that's still up in the air.

    March 3, 2013 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Pam

    It's good...it's bad...it's good some of the time...drink tea and not coffee...coffee helps your heart, but now it probably doesn't....effin PICK ONE! Meanwhile, I'm gonna have another cup of coffee.

    March 21, 2013 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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    I am a mental health professional who works with the geriatric population day in and day out and I am interested in submitting more information regarding this, please help me connect with CNN. Thank you.

    March 22, 2013 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Iola Furci

    ß-Carotene is a strongly-colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is an organic compound and chemically is classified as a hydrocarbon and specifically as a terpenoid (isoprenoid), reflecting its derivation from isoprene units. ß-Carotene is biosynthesized from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate.....-,

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