You know ‘good’ HDL cholesterol keeps your heart healthy, and now research reveals it does the same for your brain! In fact, Japanese scientists say high HDL levels slash dementia risk by as much as 64 percent.
Here, the easy natural health boosters that ward off brain atrophy or “senior moments,” protect against heart disease, and help you retain all your happy memories.
Sip hot cocoa.
Good news for chocolate lovers: Sip two mugs of hot cocoa daily, and a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found you’ll up your “good” cholesterol by 24 percent. Researchers credit cocoa compounds called flavonoids with the heart-smart effect. What’s more, Appalachian State University scientists say folks who enjoy 25 grams of dark chocolate (about four squares) daily have better memories and multitasking ability than those who don’t indulge.
Dig into dip.
Try swirling your carrot sticks into yogurt mixed with extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic and sea salt. Greek scientists say eating 1½ to 2 Tbs. of EVOO daily increases HDL levels 50 percent. And research out of Temple University suggests olive oil’s polyphenols reduce harmful, dementia-triggering brain proteins by as much as 60 percent.
Grab your slippers.
On TV commercial breaks, dash upstairs for your slippers. Just eight minutes of stair climbing daily releases a hormone that Ohio State University scientists say helps raise HDL by 12 percent. Plus, 20 minutes of exercise daily cuts Alzheimer’s risk by 20 percent by boosting new brain cell growth.
Spice things up.
Taking 500 mg. of the warm spice curcumin daily boosts HDL by 29 percent by easing inflammation, Indian scientists say. And as UCLA experts explain, its ability to curb swelling is a boon for the brain as well, heightening older adults’ memory by 28 percent in six months. Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
Sniff for sharpness.
Sniffing the scent of rosemary ups right-now alertness and recall by as much as 75 percent. That’s the word from British scientists, who say aromatic compounds in the herb blunt the breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that’s crucial for mental clarity.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.