Want to be able blow the candles out on your 100th birthday cake and actually remember what you did during all of those years? Then keep your healthy HDL cholesterol high.
That’s a secret shared by long-lived people who’ve never developed memory-robbing Alzheimer’s disease: They have higher-than-average HDL levels. Participants in a recent study whose HDL was above 56 (if yours is over 50, that’s great!) were 60 percent less likely to have Alzheimer’s than those with lower HDL.
Healthy, active HDL works like a good cop, patrolling your arterial streets and carting off lousy LDL perps to your liver and O-U-T before they turn into heart-threatening plaque. That keeps blood flowing freely to your head (your heart, too). Good HDL also protects delicate brain cells from damaging inflammation and improves your memory.
So if you’re counting on that 100th birthday cake, do this to keep your HDL high and your brain young:
1. Eat good fats. Make a daily date with monounsaturated fats, like those in walnuts, avocados, salmon, trout and olive/canola oils. DHA (900 mg a day) is what you want. It’ll raise HDL by 12 percent.
2. Keep walking. Doing 30 minutes a day can raise HDL by 9 percent.
3. Quit smoking. In addition to all its other benefits, you’ll get a fast four-point HDL bonus.
4. Slim down. Losing 6.6 pounds raises your HDL 1 point. It sounds small, but it isn’t.
5. Talk to your doc. Ask if taking niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), two baby aspirin, estrogen (for women) or a low-dose statin drug like Crestor would boost your HDL.
The YOU Docs — Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz