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Studies have shown that high levels of cholesterol break down the blood-brain barrier (BBB), reducing it effectiveness against damage by blood borne contamination to the central nervous system (CNS).

Researchers from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences gave rabbits 3 mg of caffeine each day–equivalent to a daily cup of coffee for an average size person for 12 weeks. During this time the rabbits were fed a cholesterol enriched diet. Another group of rabbits were fed the cholesterol enriched diet without the caffeinated jolt.

At the end of the 12 weeks when the BBB of the caffeinated and non-caffeinated rabbits were compared, those who received caffeine had a significantly better blood-brain barrier.

Caffeine appears to block the disruptive effects of cholesterol that degrade the blood-brain barrier and make it leaky. When the blood-brain barrier is leaky it puts a patient at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers conclude that caffeine is a safe and readily available and its ability to stabilize the BBB could play an important role in therapies against neurological disorders.