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Friday, October 29, 2010

Daily caffeine 'protects brain'

The drink has already been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease, and a study by a US team for the Journal of Neuroinflammation may explain why.
Caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, most commonly from the beverages coffee, tea and soda. An estimated 80% of the world's population consumes a caffeine-containing substance daily. A typical 8-ounce (240-ml) cup of instant coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine -- about twice as much as a cup of tea or a 12-ounce (360-ml) can/bottle of soda. A 30-gram chocolate bar might contain as much caffeine as half a cup of tea. Pure caffeine can be obtained in powders, caplets or tablets in products like NoDoz®.

The English word caffeine comes from the French (Spanish & Portugese) word for coffee: café. Caffeine has been identified in over a hundred species of plant, but the most highly cultivated sources are the seeds (beans) of the berries from the coffee tree (Coffea arabica or Coffea canephora, variety robusta), the leaves & leaf-buds of the tea bush (Thea sinensis, also known as Camellia sinensis), the nut of the kola tree (Cola acuminata) and the seeds (beans) of the fruit from the cacao (cocoa) tree (Theobroma cacao). Why caffeine is found in so many plants is a matter of speculation, but a popular theory is that caffeine functions as a natural pesticide insofar as caffeine is lethally toxic for the larvae of mealworms, mosquitos and tobacco hornworms, among others.

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