January 2013

Coffee Fruit May Increase Important Brain Protein

A new study concludes that coffee fruit extract may increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

Brain-derived neurotrophic (BDNF) promotes the growth and differentiation of brain cells and their connections with each other. Reduced levels of BDNF have been linked to Huntingdon's disease and Alzheimer's disease. BDNF has also been associated with certain mental disorders, although this relationship remains unclear.

The coffee plant contains two main parts, the coffee fruit and the coffee seed. The coffee seed is typically called the coffee bean, which is roasted and brewed as a beverage. The coffee fruit surrounds the seed. The coffee fruit is purple or red and resembles a cherry.

The new study included individuals who were randomly assigned to five different supplements. The five groups included a coffee fruit powder, a green coffee caffeine powder, a green coffee bean extract powder, a grape seed extract powder and a control powder. The participants fasted and consumed 100 milligrams of their assigned powder. Researchers took blood samples every half an hour for two hours after consumption.

Grape seed extract powder and green coffee caffeine powder raised levels of blood BDNF by 31 percent, compared to before supplementation. Coffee fruit powder raised blood BDNF by 143 percent, compared to before supplementation.

The researchers concluded that coffee fruit powder may have the potential to treat diseases related to BDNF. However, more research on this topic is needed before a definitive conclusion can be made.

For more information about coffee, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Reyes-Izquierdo T, Nemzer B, Shu C. Modulatory effect of coffee fruit extract on plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy subjects. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jan 14:1-6. 

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