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High Cholesterol & Alzheimer's

June 21, 2015

If you are caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s, learning more about how you may be able to prevent it is probably a concern.  While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s isn’t clear, researchers are fairly confident they have identified a few factors that may contribute to it.  Among them is high cholesterol.  A study published in 2013 in JAMA Neurology outlined the science behind why that might be.

High levels of “bad” cholesterol and low levels of “good” cholesterol are linked with the presence of more amyloid plaques deposits in the brain.  These plaques are tied to Alzheimer’s disease.  Many scientists believe that by managing your cholesterol, you lower your risk for Alzheimer’s.

Senior Woman at the doctor's office

Manage Your Cholesterol & Risk of Alzheimer’s

Understanding both the good and the bad forms of cholesterol, as well as the lifestyle choices that influence them is important.  Diet can play a major role.

Replacing unhealthy foods such as carbohydrates and red meat and replacing them with “super foods” may be one way to prevent high cholesterol.  Many of these are considered to be the core foods of both the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean diet.  Healthy food choices that help manage cholesterol include:

  • Omega-3 Fish: You’ve probably heard that fish can be good for you.  Blood tests show that tuna, sardines, salmon, trout and herring can each help reduce triglycerides by 20-50%.  Equally important is that omega-3 fatty fish also help boost the good form of cholesterol, known as HDL.
  • Healthy Food Additives: Sterols and Stanols two products you may not know much about.  They occur naturally in some vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains.  But they can also be added to food to help fight cholesterol.  You may notice them on the label for products such as margarine, orange juice and cereal.
  • Oatmeal: Enjoying a dish of oatmeal each morning or adding oat bran to smoothies is an easy way to increase the level of soluble fiber you consume.  Because soluble fiber acts as a gel in your body, it helps to pull cholesterol through the intestines and prevent it from being absorbed.
  • Olive oil: This is a staple in kitchens that adhere to the Mediterranean diet.  Followers of this way of eating typically have lower rates of heart disease.  Rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E, it can be used for cooking and for salads.
  • Healthy Nuts: Eating a handful of healthy nuts each day can also help keep triglycerides lower.  Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are all good ones to consider.

Finally, if you are struggling to understand your risk and adopt a healthier lifestyle, the tools in the Cholesterol Resources area of the American Heart Association’s website may be of help.  They offer everything from a guided animation of cholesterol to recipes you can use to plan menus.

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