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Posted: July 08, 2008

Coffee's Enticing Aroma Reduces Stress: Report

The enticing aroma of fresh-brewed coffee may do more than invite you to take that first welcome sip: it also may help relieve the stress that comes from not getting enough sleep, scientists say.

In short, a new international study has found that just smelling coffee can jump-start genes in the brain that can improve the stress that general tiredness breeds, especially when associated with sleep deprivation. The findings, from a team led by Han-Seok Seo at Seoul National University in South Korea, are published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

These latest kudos for coffee add to the mounting evidence that the steamy beverage, and its ingredients, offers health benefits in its different forms, although not many tests prior to that by Seo’s team have looked at the impact of coffee bean aroma on health.

Seo said his researchers let lab rats inhale coffee’s aroma, including some rats that were stressed by sleep deprivation, while monitoring gene and protein expressions in the rats’ brains. They found rats that smelled the coffee showed different levels of activity in 17 genes, and 13 of them had differential expressions between the stress group and the stress with coffee group.

This included proteins with healthy antioxidant activity that can protect nerve cells from stress-related damage.

The experiment provides "for the first time, clues to the potential antioxidant or stress-relaxation activities of the coffee bean aroma," the researchers wrote.


And they added, "These results indirectly explain why so many people use coffee for staying up all night, although the volatile compounds of coffee beans are not fully consistent with those of the coffee extracts. In other words, the stress caused by sleep loss via caffeine may be alleviated through smelling the coffee aroma."

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