A daily fix of caffeine helps shield the brain from the damaging effects of cholesterol, which is apparently the way coffee helps reduce the risk of dementia, new research suggests. The "blood-brain barrier" protects the brain from toxins in the bloodstream, but scientists have discovered that cholesterol makes it leaky. The strength of the barrier was boosted in rabbits given the caffeine equivalent of a daily cup of joe, reports the BBC.
Cholesterol has already been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's, and coffee has been tied to lower rates of dementia. The new research suggests caffeine "could have an important part to play in therapies against neurological disorders," said an author of the study, published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation. A spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Disease Society called the findings "the best evidence yet" of coffee's benefits and called for more research.