Here's Why 'Bad' Cholesterol is Linked to Lower Mental Ability

But there are simple ways to reduce your risk

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Researchers have discovered that fluctuating levels of 'bad' cholesterol could lead to lower mental performance in older people.

Cholesterol gets a bad rep but it's actually essential for our health. It plays a vital role in building, maintaining and keeping our cell membranes working.

But what most people don't realise is that there are two types of this chemical: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

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LDL cholesterol is the bad guy because it can form plaques inside arteries and clog and stiffen them, leading to an increased risk of a heart attack and stroke. But doctors consider the other type, HDL cholesterol, 'good' because it carries LDL to the liver where it is broken down before it can have an effect on the arteries.

Scientists have been studying the link between cholesterol levels and cognitive abilityin older adults for years, but have so far struggled to come to any concrete conclusions. This research, published in the journal Circulation looked at fluctuations in LDL cholesterol for the first time.

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4428 people ages 70 to 82 took part in the study. All either had pre-existing artery disease or were at high risk of developing the condition.

The scientists discovered that those with the highest LDL variability took 2.7 seconds longer on average than those with the lowest to finish one test that deliberately confused words and colours. For instance, naming the colour of the ink used when the word 'blue' was written in red.

Lead researcher Dr Roelof Smit, from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: "While this might seem like a small effect, it is significant at a population level. Our findings suggest for the first time that it's not just the average level of your LDL-cholesterol that is related to brain health, but also how much your levels vary from one measurement to another."

Foods to avoid include:

  • Meat pies
  • Sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Lard
  • Cream
  • Hard cheese
  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Food containing coconut or palm oil

Don't go overboard though, it's not healthy to totally cut out fat from your diet. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats found in foods like oily fishavocados,olive oil and nuts and seeds.

Don't go overboard though, it's not healthy to totally cut out fat from your diet. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats found in foods like oily fishavocados,olive oil and nuts and seeds.

If you're exercising regularly, you'll increase the levels of good cholesterol by stimulating the body to move fatty deposits to the liver so they're broken down. You'll also lower your blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week is good target to work towards. Try walking, swimming or cycling.

Cigarettes contain a chemical which can stop HDL transporting fatty deposits to the liver leading to higher levels of bad cholesterol, which is one reason why smoking is a major risk factor for both heart attacks and strokes.

Via.

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