We know that maintaining a healthy, low-fat anti-aging diet is important for managing cholesterol levels—an elevated level of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack, and now, it’s also being linked to deteriorating mental health. Alarming new evidence shows that those who suffer from high LDL cholesterol are also at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A study by the University of California’s Davis Alzheimer’s Research Center conducted positron emission tomography (PET) scans on 74 seniors; 33 had no brain impairment, and 38 of the participants had mild brain function impairment. Researchers then studied the 3D images from the scans to determine the level of beta amyloid proteins in the brain.
The findings showed that the participants who had higher levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) in the bloodstream also had more amyloid plaque in the brain. It’s believed that the buildup of these plaque deposits contributes toward the development of Alzheimer’s.
The researchers behind this study are under the impression that maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, especially increasing HDL cholesterol levels, can help clear amyloid plaque in the brain, thereby reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. in other words, if middle-aged adults who have high LDL cholesterol levels start to reduce it before it starts to build up, they can reduce their chances of developing Alzheimer’s, among a list of other cholesterol-related conditions, later on in life.
It should be noted that cholesterol in the blood and cholesterol in the brain are separate “pools,” because they’re separated by the blood-brain barrier. Because this particular study looked at cholesterol in the blood, further research is needed to determine how it influences cholesterol levels in the brain, and vice versa, in order to truly understand the direct relationship to Alzheimer’s disease.
That being said, there’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and if making small lifestyle and diet changes can reduce your chances even by the slightest, isn’t it worth taking a proactive approach? By monitoring your cholesterol levels, you’re not only potentially protecting yourself against Alzheimer’s, but you’ll also be reducing your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke. What have you got to lose?
Click here for a list of heart-healthy foods to help keep your cholesterol levels in check and reduce your Alzheimer’s risk.
“Cholesterol levels linked to brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s,” Medical News Today web site, December 31, 2013; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270710.php.
Dallas, M.E., “Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels Might Raise Alzheimer’s Risk,” WebMD web site, December 30, 2013; http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20131230/unhealthy-cholesterol-levels-might-raise-alzheimers-risk.
Jegtvig, S., “There’s A Worrying New Link Between Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s,” Business Insider web site, December 31, 2013; http://www.businessinsider.com/link-between-cholesterol-and-alzheimers-2013-12.