Low HDL Linked to Poor Memory, So Go Nuts!

A new study associates HDL cholesterol—good cholesterol—with bad short-term memory in middle-aged adults. Reuters reports:
The researchers examined the relationship between blood fats and memory using data on 3673 individuals, who were an average of 55 years old when tested between 1997 and 1999.

Short-term verbal memory was assessed at the outset with a 20-word free recall test. Memory deficit was defined as recalling no more than four words. Memory decline was defined as a reduction of two or more words between the first test and a second test, performed in 2002-2004.

The results are reported in the medical journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Compared with a high HDL level, low HDL was associated with memory deficit during both tests. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, illnesses, and medication use, those with low HDL were 27 percent and 53 percent more likely to have a memory deficit on the first and second test, respectively.
Fret not, nuts and seeds are a great natural way to boost your HDL cholesterol. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Nuts & Seeds Protect Against Heart Disease. Here’s a bit:
Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3

Ellagitannins (ETs) are dietary polyphenols with potent antioxidant and other cancer chemopreventive activities that are found in berries, nuts (especially walnuts), and seeds.4 Walnuts can reduce Creactive protein and harmful plaque adhesion molecules, two significant markers of inflammation in arteries. The result is improved, and even restored, endothelial function (which includes the elastic property of arteries that allows dilation when necessary to meet an increased demand of blood).According to the researchers, walnuts are the first food to show such cardiovascular benefits.5
See, going nuts is a good thing!
1. Hu FB; Stampfer MJ. Nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 1999 Nov; 1(3): 204-9.

2. Mukuddem-Petersen J; Oosthuizen W; Jerling JC. A systematic review of the effects of nuts on blood lipid profiles in humans. J Nutr. 2005; 135(9): 2082-9.

3. Lamarche B; Desroche S; Jenkins DJ; et al. Combined effects of a dietary portfolio of plant sterols, vegetable protein, viscous fiber and almonds on LDL particle size. Br J Nutr. 2004: 92(4):654-63.

4. Cerda B; Tomas-Barberan FA; Espan JC. Metabolism of antioxidant and chemopreventive
ellagitannins from strawberries, raspberries, walnuts, and oak-aged wine in humans: identification of biomarkers and individual variability. J Agric Food Chem. 2005; 53(2):227-35.

5. Ros E; Naatez I; Parez-Heras A; et al. A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial. Circulation. 2004; 109(13):1609-14.
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