Good Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease

In April 2022, new research published in the Alzheimer’s Association journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia revealed that increasing HDL or “good cholesterol” levels can help lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The research linked small HDL particles in the brain to better cognitive function.

HDL Cholesterol and Amyloid Plaques

Dr. Hussein Yassine and his research team found that participants with high levels of HDL had improved scores on cognitive tests. Yassine and the team believe that HDL may help “escort” amyloid plaques out of the brain. (Amyloid plaques are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.) These plaques are formed when peptides fold incorrectly and adhere to brain cells. This causes inflammation and disrupts normal brain cell functioning.

What can you do to increase good cholesterol? 

  1. Move your body.

Get up and walk around as much as you can. Instead of sitting and drinking coffee, grab a coffee and stroll around your neighborhood. At work, schedule walking meetings or move around on your breaks. Take your phone calls outdoors or on an exercise bike or treadmill.

  1. Feed your body.

For a few decades, we were taught that all fat was bad. It is time to unlearn that. Many foods are filled with healthy unsaturated fats. Indulging in yummy foods such as avocados, salmon, trout, nuts, berries, cremini mushrooms, and olive oil will boost HDL, while oatmeal reduces LDL (“bad cholesterol”). Check food labels: soybean oil, often used in pre-packaged food, decreases HDL and increases LDL.

  1. Fiber is your friend.

Soluble fiber has been shown to reduce cholesterol absorption into your bloodstream, so fill up on fiber—around 25 grams per day. Beans, legumes, vegetables, many fruits, whole grains, berries, and even popcorn can help reduce cholesterol by trapping fats so they cannot be absorbed.

  1. Shed extra weight.

It is easier said than done, but losing just five pounds can help lower LDL. Some people have had luck following a low-carb diet, which can help you lose weight by keeping you feeling satiated with fewer overall calories. Without as many carbs, your blood sugar will spike less, getting you off the cycle of needing to eat to fend off a sugar crash.