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Good Cholesterol Improves Memory

Armen Hareyan's picture

Middle-aged people with high levels of good cholesterol in blood are less likely to develop memory problems that those with low levels.

It is known that people develop memory problems as they age. With aging population of baby boomers US will face huge problem with memory, which will later cause various forms of dementia, like Alzheimer's. Researchers are now looking for ways of improving memory conditions in aging people, and this research looks at how good cholesterol can solve this problem.

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"Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells. It's normal to have cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body because it's used for producing cell membranes and some hormones, and serves other needed bodily functions," reads American Heart Association. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered as good cholesterol and is known to be able to prevent heart attack. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered as bad cholesterol and is known to harden artery walls and make arteries narrower.

A joint team of researchers from University College London and INSERM institute in France examined 3700 people who had an average age of 55 at the beginning of the study. The participants were given word recall tests - they read 20 words and were asked to recall as many words as possible within 2 minute period. Participants were also given blood tests to measure cholesterol levels in blood blood. Five years later participants were given to both word recall and blood tests again to monitor changes.

At the beginning of the study participants with low levels of HDL were 27% more likely to have memory problems than those with high levels of good cholesterol. At the end of the study the likelihood of memory loss in those with low levels of HDL grow up to 53%. Researchers defined 40 mg/dL of HDL as low levels and 60 mg/dL as high levels.

This research doesn't explain how exactly good cholesterol affects brain and memory, but it urges the need of further researches to understand how HDL levels can be monitored and controlled to achieve memory improvement in middle-aged adults.