HDL Cholesterol May Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
People often think that cholesterol is a bad word. In fact, like so many other things, we need it in balance. Cholesterol is essential to the functioning of our cells. When you talk about the difference between good and bad cholesterol, here’s an easy way to remember: HDL is the healthy or good cholesterol. LDL is the lousy or bad.
HDL, or high density lipoprotein, is a molecule made up of protein, lipids (fats) and cholesterol. Your ratio of good versus bad cholesterol is better indication of your risk for heart disease, arthrosclerosis, heart attack and stroke than just your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. In fact, even if your LDL level is within the normal range, a low HDL cholesterol level itself can indicate a greater risk for heart disease.
HDL cholesterol is essential because it helps your arteries rid themselves of LDL before it turns into plaque. Plaque buildup constricts your arteries and limits the blood flow through them, including the blood in all of your organs, like your brain. Further, HDL protects sensitive brain cells from damaging inflammation. The HDL keeps your memory sharp by protecting your brain cells from damage.
HDL cholesterol is said to be "good” cholesterol because high levels of lipoprotein in your blood is believed to lower your risk of many diseases including coronary artery disease and dementia, and even Alzheimer’s.
Recent research from Columbia University showed that those with higher levels of HDL cholesterol are 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The study examined over a thousand seniors with no previous history of dementia or memory loss and measured their cholesterol levels every 18 months for four years. The researchers compared the cholesterol levels of the participants and compared them with those that did not have Alzheimer’s. They discovered those with the greatest HDL levels, more than 55 mg/dL, had about a 60% reduced risk of developing the Alzheimer’s disease as compared to those whose numbers were less than 39 mg/dL.
These findings help explain the relationship between cholesterol, cholesterol-carrying proteins such as apoE and HDL, and the protein beta-amyloid may be critical in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-amyloid is a protein found in high amounts in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. It can turn into dense plaques on brain cells, which in turn will destroy the synapses and nerve impulses.
The average American male has between 40 to 50 mg/dL of HDL in their blood, and the average woman has 50 to 60. A reading under 40 for males or 50 for women is known to increase the incidence of heart disease and heart attacks, even with a healthy, low LDL cholesterol level. Those with low HDL also tend to have high blood triglycerides, which is another known risk factor for heart disease and strokes. This makes it just as important to raise your HDL cholesterol count as it is to lower your LDL cholesterol count.
Your doctor can perform cholesterol testing to determine your HDL cholesterol level as well as your total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio.
What can you do to boost your HDL?
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat more niacin, a B vitamin which is found in dairy, poultry, fish and eggs
- Eat more fiber, such as oatmeal, beans, fruits and vegetables
- Stop smoking
Regular physical activity, in general, is believed to improve brain function, both by increasing blood flow to the brain and by stimulating the production of hormones and nerve growth factors involved in new nerve cell growth. Exercise also raises levels of "good” HDL cholesterol. Studies have found that animals that are kept physically active have better memories and more cells in their hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory. Exercise can also help ward off diseases like Type 2 diabetes, which increase the risk of developing dementia.
All adults 20 years of age and older should have their cholesterol tested every five years. If your cholesterol level is high or if you have other risk factors for heart disease, you may need to have it checked sooner and more often.
The good news is that adults can take steps to improve cardiovascular health, including eating a proper diet, exercising, controlling their cholesterol levels.
An excellent cholesterol supplement that includes many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the "bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the "good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!