What is colloquially known as “good” cholesterol appears to reduce an adult’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
Good cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein, under the acronym HDL. The opposite is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the fat in your bloodstream that is linked to serious cardiovascular troubles.
In society, high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease are unfortunately common. More than half of all Americans have high cholesterol. About one percent of people aged 65 to 69 years old develops Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers studied 1,130 older adults to examine the link between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease. The study included a random sampling of people older than 65 with no history of dementia. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol were defined as 55 milligrams per deciliter or more.
A couple of terms need to be defined for the study to be understood. “Probable Alzheimer’s disease” was when dementia couldn’t be explained by any other disorder. “Possible Alzheimer’s disease” was when the most likely cause of dementia was Alzheimer’s disease, but there were other disorders that could contribute to the dementia, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
In the study, there were 101 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease — 89 probable and 12 possible. The average age of individuals at the onset of probable and possible Alzheimer’s disease was 83 years old. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol were significantly associated with a decreased risk of both probable and possible Alzheimer’s disease.
Maintaining higher HDL levels and lower LDL levels is key to remaining healthy. Here are some tips for improving HDL levels:
— Aerobic exercise may be the most effective way. Tip: it’s the length of time you exercise rather than the intensity of your exercise.
— Cut trans fats in your diet. They are found in many prepared foods, indicated on the label by the phrase “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”
— One or two alcoholic beverages can actually increase HDL levels.
— Increase your intake of monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil and other healthful oils.
— Don’t smoke and do attempt to lose weight. Overweight people who shed pounds boost HDL levels.
— Eat high amounts of soluble fiber. Other dietary strategies are drinking cranberry juice, eating more fish, and reducing fat in the diet in general.