To remain alert and reduce fatigue amid a hectic morning or afternoon, many people reach for a cup of coffee. However, coffee can make some people jittery, and if you’re caffeine-sensitive, an afternoon cup can give you insomnia well into the night. Excessive coffee even gives some people headaches.

Finally, there’s a safe and healthy brain-boosting alternative…

It’s also coffee but in a different form that contains very little caffeine. It’s called whole coffee fruit extract.

Coffee beans form and grow inside a bright red fruit that goes by three different names: coffee fruit, coffee berries, or more usually, coffee cherries.

The fruit is highly perishable, and prone to extensive contamination from bacteria and molds that generate harmful mycotoxins. For these reasons the fruit has always been considered as waste material in traditional coffee production, not suitable for eating. For the coffee industry, the seed – that is, the bean – is all that matters.

However, new food processing technology now makes it possible to safely buy the cherries and products made with them as well as supplements containing whole fruit extract.

This is good news because the cherries have some amazing brain-supporting properties.

Boosts BDNF 

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein involved in the development, maintenance and function of the central nervous system, playing a key role in learning, memory and behavior. You’ve heard a lot about BDNF if you’re a long-time reader of this newsletter.

In fact, it’s considered so important, some researchers have dubbed it “Miracle Gro” for the brain. Enhanced BDNF protects brain cells from free radicals, lifts mood, speeds up learning and improves memory.

One study enrolled twenty healthy subjects aged 25 to 35 who either swallowed a 100 mg capsule of whole coffee fruit concentrate (WCFC), took a placebo capsule or drank freshly brewed coffee.

The results were astonishing.

BDNF rose in blood serum by 91 percent in the WCFC group compared to just 21 percent for coffee and five percent for the placebo. In a very similar study, 100 mg of green coffee caffeine powder and grape seed extract powder separately raised BDNF by about 31 percent each, but WCFC increased it by an even more astonishing 143 percent, almost 2½ fold.

People taking WCFC can expect to notice definite changes from this boost, so researchers tested this to decipher exactly what benefits people can experience.

Helps the Cognitively Impaired 

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, volunteers took either coffeeberry extract or placebo before undergoing a series of extensive cognitive tasks designed to fatigue the brain.

The extract noticeably reduced mental fatigue and provided higher levels of alertness during the testing phase. Researchers from Auburn University, Alabama, wondered if these positive findings could help people with memory complaints.

They undertook another double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial testing coffee cherry extract (CCE), over 28 days, in 71 people with mild cognitive decline. During this period, participants engaged in a cognitive task that made demands on working memory.

Beneficial effects on thinking ability were noted in as little as seven days and persisted throughout the 28-day study period. The researchers concluded that “CCE, when taken in the morning or twice per day, is associated with improvements in reaction times and trends toward indications of improved accuracy.”

They suggested that “these observations may be indicative of underlying processes such as increased processing speed, sustained attention, and/or focus.”

Brain Scans Reveal Brain-Health Benefits 

Bolstered by this success researchers then carried out a first-of-its-kind pilot study involving eight healthy men and women, average age 60, with mild cognitive impairment and no history of heart disease.

Half took a single dose of whole coffee cherry extract (WCCE) while the other half took a placebo. They all underwent extensive cognitive testing, had blood samples drawn, and underwent advanced neuroimaging techniques to scan the brain.

In those taking WCCE, the scans revealed changes in brain networks that would account for the significant improvements in cognition and working memory observed during the other two studies.

In fact, those taking the extract saw an increase in BDNF of 41 percent. In addition, glutamate levels rose while GABA fell. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that helps cognitive function, memory, learning, and other brain functions. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that helps reduce anxiety.

They concluded their study by writing, “These results suggest that WCCE is associated with acute neurophysiological changes supportive of faster reaction times and increased, sustained attention.”

A Potent Cocktail of Plant Chemicals 

A just published analysis of the contents of coffee cherries found an amazing 219 phytochemicals, “the largest number of identifications in a single study” the scientists wrote.

This included chlorogenic acids, which are well-known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, and therapeutic properties.

Coffee itself is rich in these substances and they’re believed to be concentrated during the WCCE extraction process.

The Auburn University team also carried out their own analysis of the extract, discovering “notable antioxidant properties”.

Coffee cherries are used to make coffee flour and an herbal tea sometimes referred to as cascara. They can also be found in specialty chocolates and nut butters. Some skin creams and sunscreens incorporate coffee cherries because of their powerful antioxidant properties.

As a supplement, coffee cherry is widely available at health stores and pharmacies. Our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions, offers a brain supplement that contains not only coffee fruit extract, but also a clinical dose of fish oil and other valuable brain nutrients. Click here to learn more.


  1. https://www.scirp.org/html/14-2700867_36447.htm?pagespeed=noscript Stimulatory Effect of Whole Coffee Fruit Concentrate Powder on Plasma Levels of Total and Exosomal Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Healthy Subjects: An Acute Within-Subject Clinical Study
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23312069/ Modulatory effect of coffee fruit extract on plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy subjects
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-018-0118-8 Acute Low and Moderate Doses of a Caffeine-Free Polyphenol-Rich Coffeeberry Extract Improve Feelings of Alertness and Fatigue Resulting from the Performance of Fatiguing Cognitive Tasks
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31829793/ Cognitive short- and long-term effects of coffee cherry extract in older adults with mild cognitive decline
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7909261/ Neurophysiological Effects of Whole Coffee Cherry Extract in Older Adults with Subjective Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Pilot Study
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33689321/ Identification of Phytochemical Compounds in Coffea arabica Whole Coffee Cherries and Their Extracts by LC-MS/M

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