When High Cholesterol Is Good for You
Cholesterol isn’t always bad for you. In fact, you can’t live without it.
Does this sound a little radical? It really isn’t. It’s just that we’ve been bombarded with the bad news about cholesterol. Its health benefits have gotten lost in all the hoopla.
Cholesterol is made in your liver, but every cell in your body needs it. Your cell walls – which let food in and keep waste products out – can’t function without cholesterol. If you didn’t have cholesterol, your whole body would shut down.
Plus, you need cholesterol to make important hormones – such as estrogen and testosterone. So you can see cholesterol has an important job.
And a new study at Columbia University points to an unexpected benefit from cholesterol. It may help keep your brain functioning better for longer. But not just any cholesterol will do the job.
You may know there are several types of cholesterol – but that two are especially important. They’re called High Density Lipoprotein (HDL, or “good,” cholesterol) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol).
High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk of clogged arteries. That can lead to heart problems. But HDL cholesterol is your friend. Experts say it carries excess “bad” cholesterol to your liver for disposal. So HDL cholesterol actually promotes heart health.
This new study found that higher levels of good cholesterol may also promote a lower risk of mental decline.1
The researchers looked at 1,130 mature adults with good mental function over the course of three years. What they found was that people with the highest levels of HDL cholesterol were 60% less likely to develop a common form of mental impairment.
Of course, many people don’t have high levels of HDL cholesterol. So finding ways to improve your HDL number is probably worth the effort. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to support healthier cholesterol levels.
One of my favorite supplements – CoQ10 – has been shown to support higher HDL levels, lower levels of LDL cholesterol and lower blood glucose levels.2 all three effects are healthy steps. If you throw in less risk of losing your mental edge, it sounds like a winning deal to me.
Another option is adding coconut oil to your diet. In human studies, coconut oil also promotes higher HDL levels – as well as a lower Body Mass Index (BMI). In other words, coconut oil may carry a bonus of promoting weight loss.3
Another great way to support higher HDL levels is to eat a low-carb diet. Cutting out the carbs also promotes lower LDL and triglyceride (fat) levels and supports weight loss and healthier blood sugar balance.4 But, as with any other diet plan, check with your doctor before starting a low-carb diet.
As this new study emphasizes, simply lowering cholesterol isn’t necessarily a good thing. You may need to lower your LDL cholesterol – but a higher HDL number could provide significant benefits.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 Reitz C, et al. Association of Higher Levels of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Elderly Individuals and Lower Risk of Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease. Archives of Neurology, Vol. 67 No. 12, December 2010.
2 Singh RB and Niaz MA. Serum concentration of lipoprotein(a) decreases on treatment with hydrosoluble coenzyme Q10 in patients with coronary artery disease: discovery of a new role. Int J Cardiol. 1999 Jan;68(1):23-9.
3 Assunção ML, et al. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601. Epub 2009 May 13.
4 Boling CL, et al. Carbohydrate-restricted diets for obesity and related diseases: an update. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2009 Nov;11(6):462-9.