If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Your high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels are the cholesterol readings that matter the most. If you remember my earlier posts, and my podcast on statins (Episode 7), you’ll recall that HDLs, or “good” cholesterol, are more important than low density lipoproteins (LDL) and total cholesterol when it comes to predicting whether you’ll develop heart disease. If you don’t, then maybe your HDL levels need a little boost.

According to British researchers, middled-aged people with low levels of HDLs had greater memory decline and were at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The study looked at 3,700 British men and women, and found that falling levels of HDL cholesterol were linked to declining memory by age 60. The subjects were given a memory test, whereby they had twenty words read to them and then were instructed to write down in two minutes as many of the words they could remember. At age 55, those with low HDL cholesterol had a 27% higher risk of memory loss than those with high HDLs. At age 60, those with low HDLs had a 53% higher risk of memory loss compared to those with high HDLs.

I’m trying to tell you how important keeping your HDL levels up is. Here are the ways to increase HDL levels:

  • Regular aerobic exercise–walking, jogging, hiking, treadmill, stair climber–anything that makes you sweat for 20-30 minutes uninterrupted
  • Supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids–take these every day. I carry the best in my office
  • Losing weight–the two previous activities will help in this regard as will portion control (and by cutting sodas, and by going on the wagon)
  • Kicking the smoking habit

Pick up these habits, one at a time if you need to, and watch your HDL levels climb. You’ll not only benefit by reducing your chances of having a heart attack and retaining your sharp mental wit, but you’ll also feel better. And look better, too. Can I motivate you any more than that?

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