Low levels of "good cholesterol" have been linked to memory loss.
There's a lot of confusing information out there about cholesterol these days. We hear that it's better for our health to lower our cholesterol, but what does that really mean?
There are two kinds of cholesterol that are measured whenever we get tested. One is what they call "bad" cholesterol, the LDL (remember "Lousy" cholesterol) and "good" cholesterol, the HDL (remember "Happy" cholesterol). LDL is blamed for such problems as atherosclerosis and heart disease. HDL helps our body to eliminate LDL which is a good thing. Typically, we want to lower our "lousy" levels (but just how low is debatable) and raise our "happy" levels.
In fact, a new research study was released yesterday stating that low HDL levels are linked to greater memory loss and dementia. Scientists aren't ready to make the leap to saying that raising HDL will help prevent dementia such as from Alzheimer's, but it's definitely worth studying further. Read more about that here .
So what can we do to raise our HDL levels? Experts say that losing weight, being active, and not smoking all contribute to healthier HDL levels. It's great if you can make some changes there. For folks who are already OK in those areas, adding certain foods may help.
Here's a list I've gathered from a several sources that claim these foods help raise HDL levels:
raw onions, red wine, orange juice, beans, fish, oat bran, stablized rice bran, soy products (although there is research suggesting soy is problematic in other ways), nuts, avocados, legumes, lentils, and soluble fiber as is found in apples, grapes and citrus fruits.
Using these oils in your cooking can help:
olive, peanut, safflower, coconut (which has gotten a bad rap, turns out it's really good for us).
Foods to avoid (for many reasons):
refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour and white rice (bran removed along with the nutrition), margarine and other hydrogenated oils.