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Natural Awakenings

The Cholesterol-Alzheimer's Link: Lowering Your Bad Levels for Numerous Reasons

Nov 01, 2009 02:00AM

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research and the University of Kuopio, in Finland, recently reported that elevated cholesterol levels in midlife—even borderline elevations—significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia later in life.

While scientists are still trying to pinpoint the genetic and lifestyle factors that cause Alzheimer’s and dementia, levels of cholesterol are proving to respond well to lifestyle changes. Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight continue to be an important first goal; losing even 10 pounds can help improve cholesterol levels. Discerning between good and bad fats also helps. Good fats come from plants, such as avocados and nuts, or fish like salmon and mackerel; bad fats are usually found in meats and animal products.

Researchers recommend that we eat ample fiber from whole grains and vegetables, and consider a supplement of artichoke leaf. A study conducted by the University of Reading, UK, indicates that the leaf reduces plasma cholesterol. Include fruits, too, as they contain pectin, a special, soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol and helps curb overeating. Another tool for gaining the upper hand on cholesterol is managing stress, because there is a direct link between elevated cholesterol in the body and the output of stress hormones.

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Sources: GolinHarris, 2009;; University of Redding, 2008

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