How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
You can lower your cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes. They include a heart-healthy eating plan, weight management, and regular physical activity.
If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. If you take medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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How To Include Nuts And Seeds In Your Diet
Different types of nuts have slight differences in their vitamin and mineral content, so eating a variety of nuts will increase your levels of various nutrients. Tips on how to make nuts and seeds a part of your diet include:
- Instead of snacking on biscuit or piece of cake as a snack, have a handful of raw or dry roasted nuts.
- Combine nuts and seeds with low-energy dense foods . This is a good way to enhance vegetable-based meals such as in Asian-style dishes or added to a salad.
- If you are vegan or vegetarian, nuts and seeds are a good protein substitute for meats, fish and eggs. They also contain fat, iron, zinc and niacin. You may need more than 30 grams of nuts and seeds a day to ensure adequate protein.
- Eat them with vitamin C rich foods and add them to drinks to boost your iron absorption.
- There is no need to soak or remove the skin of nuts unless you prefer the flavour and texture of soaked nuts. In fact, the skin of nuts is high in phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Roasting nuts enhances their flavour but has little impact on their fat content. This is because nuts are physically dense and cannot absorb much oil, even if they are submerged in it. Most nuts only absorb 2% of extra fats.
- Salted nuts are not recommended due to their higher sodium content especially if you have high blood pressure. Save salted nuts for parties and make raw and unsalted roasted nuts your everyday choice.
Foods Rich In Unsaturated Fats
Cutting down on saturated fat and replace some of it with unsaturated fats is great way to lower your cholesterol. Foods which contain unsaturated fats include:
- vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- avocado, nuts and seeds
- a medium sized vegetable such as a turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, leek, tomato or carrot
- a medium sized fruit for example, an apple, orange or banana
- 2 small fruits such as plums or satsumas
- a handful of berries or grapes and other small fruits like strawberries and prunes
- a good-sized slice of a larger fruit such as a melon, mango or pineapple
- a tablespoon of dried fruit
- a 150ml glass of fruit juice
- a bowl of salad
Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, tinned, frozen or dried. They all count. If you choose tinned, choose options in juice or water, without added sugar or salt.
Potatoes, yams, cassava and plantains are exceptions. They dont count because they count as a starchy food, like rice or pasta.
Unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies count too, but only one portion. More than one doesnt count because the loose sugar and acid in them can damage your teeth.
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Do Nuts Lower Your Risk For Heart Disease
Nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, contain high amounts of unsaturated fat or good fats, which increase high-density lipoprotein and lower low-density lipoprotein .
LDL is a bad cholesterol because it clogs up your arteries. This is why high LDL levels increase a personâs risk of heart attacks and strokes.
HDL, on the other hand, is your âgoodâ cholesterol because it carries âbadâ cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver. Lower HDL levels are linked to heart disease whereas higher HDL levels may actually help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
While nuts lower your risk of heart disease by lowering your LDL cholesterol, research suggests that the frequent eating of nuts benefits the heart beyond this cholesterol-lowering effect.
Nuts may provide other heart and overall health advantages by decreasing blood pressure and reducing visceral adiposity, which is the fat that surrounds your organs in your abdomen. Having too much visceral fat increases your chance of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The health benefits of eating nuts are best studied in walnuts, a type of nut that is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, the same âgoodâ fats found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids have several heart benefits, such as:
Of course, besides unsaturated fats, there are other health benefits to nuts including:
Consuming Walnuts Can Lower Cholesterol Reduce Risk For Heart Disease
Consuming walnuts can lower cholesterol, reduce risk for heart disease
Eating a daily handful of walnuts can lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, which is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease , according to a recent study.
Researchers from Loma Linda University and the Lipid Clinic at the University of Barcelona in Spain published the findings last month in Circulation, an American Heart Association Journal, Effects of Walnut Consumption for 2 Years on Lipoprotein Subclasses Among Healthy Elders. The study looked at lipid changes in nearly 700 healthy seniors in Barcelona, Spain and Loma Linda, California over the course of two years.
Sujatha Rajaram, PhD, professor of nutrition at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and lead author of the paper, said walnuts are the only tree nut that is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid.
Walnuts have a unique profile compared to other nuts, Rajaram said. The omega-3 fat, fiber and a lot of vital nutrients make up the good stuff that works together to create a healthy package. Regardless of ones diet, if you add walnuts, you will see some benefits it’s going to be heart-friendly.
Part of the larger Walnuts and Healthy Aging study, led by principal investigator Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, this recent study is unique as it looks at the role of walnuts in lowering heart disease risk among the elderly, ages 63 and up.
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Lower Your Cholesterol With Walnuts
Many studies on walnuts suggest that you only need to consume a handful of walnuts each day to receive the cholesterol-lowering benefits of these tree nuts.
The FDA agrees with this health claim, which will be on every bag of walnuts you purchase and will state the following: “supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 oz of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat content.”
What Foods Are Low In Cholesterol Diet Chart
Freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, and some shellfish are often great options. According to the American Heart Association, eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week is recommended. Good choices include herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna. Others are also good options for lowering cholesterol.
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Pistachios Help Patients With Metabolic Syndrome
A high triglyceride level and a low HDL cholesterol level are two out of three metabolic risk factors required for your healthcare practitioner to give you a metabolic syndrome diagnosis. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk for stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
Other risk factors include:
- A large apple-shaped waistline indicating excess fat in your abdominal area
- High blood pressure, or if youre taking medication to treat this condition
- High fasting blood sugar, or if youre taking medication to treat this condition
In a 24-week study of 60 people with metabolic syndrome published in the journal Nutrition, researchers prescribed a standard diet and exercise protocol to all participants and added unsalted pistachios as 20 percent of caloric intake for half of them.
The pistachio-eating group showed a statistically significant improvement in comparison to the control in several parameters, including:
- Total cholesterol
- Fasting blood glucose
Data Extraction And Quality Assessment
We extracted information on study characteristics , study inclusion and exclusion criteria, participant characteristics , study design , intervention and control diets , study duration, analysis strategy , use of run-in or wash-out periods, funding sources, and methods for assessment of compliance. We extracted blood lipid concentrations at baseline and follow-up for total population or by intervention group . We extracted means and SDs/SEs of changes from baseline to follow-up . SDs were derived from SEs, CIs, or IQRs, when necessary, assuming a normal distribution of lipid parameters. We also extracted other nonlipid endpoints including weight change, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial function, and antioxidant capacity.
We used the Jadad score to assess study quality . Trials scored 1 point for each item addressed in the study design, including random assignment, blinding, description of withdrawals and dropouts, methods of random assignment, and double-blinding status. The Jadad score ranges from 0 to 5 points, with higher scores representing the quality of a given study. We considered a Jadad score of 3 as high quality because double-blinding was not possible in most of the trials. Another method used for quality assessment was monitoring of the participants compliance.
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A New Study Looks At Health Benefits Of Walnuts
A new study suggests that walnuts may be a particularly good choice. And this isnt the first time researchers have come to this conclusion. A previous analysis by the same researchers found that diets enriched with walnuts led to lower total and LDL cholesterol when compared with other diets. Since then, more studies with far more study participants and longer follow-up have been published.
This latest analysis combined data from 26 previous trials that included more than 1,000 people compared with those on a regular diet, those consuming a walnut-enriched diet had:
- lower total cholesterol
- lower LDL cholesterol
- lower triglycerides
- lower apoprotein B by nearly 4 mg/dL
While these improvements in blood lipids were rather small, larger improvements were noted when the comparison diet was a typical US or western diet .
A diet rich in high-fat foods such as nuts always raises the concern about the potential for weight gain, but fortunately those on the high-walnut diet did not gain weight.
May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes And Lower Your Risk
Observational studies suggest that one reason walnuts are linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes is that they help control weight. Excess weight increases your risk of high blood sugar and diabetes .
Yet, eating walnuts may help control blood sugar by mechanisms beyond their influence on weight control.
In a controlled study in 100 people with type 2 diabetes, consuming 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed walnut oil a day for 3 months, while continuing their usual diabetes medication and balanced diet, resulted in an 8% decrease in fasting blood sugar .
Additionally, the walnut oil users had about an 8% decrease in hemoglobin A1C . The control group showed no improvement in A1C or fasting blood sugar. Neither group had a change in their weight.
Eating walnuts may help control type 2 diabetes and reduce your risk of the disease, as the nut may help control your weight. Walnuts might have more direct effects on blood sugar control as well.
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What Nuts Are High In Fiber
Aside from being a source of unsaturated fats, nuts are packed with other nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that make them a vital ingredient for your diet.
In particular, nuts are exceptionally high in fiber.
Fiber is carbohydrates that the body cannot break down into sugar molecules and pass through the stomach undigested.
Thanks to this property, fiber helps the body regulate and use sugars.
Fiber is essential for your digestive systems health, so you need to eat enough fiber-rich foods for a healthy lifestyle, which include fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and cereals.
All nuts are high in fiber compared to other foods.
Check out the fiber content of a handful of nuts :
- Hazelnuts 2.9g
- Almonds 3.5g
- Pistachios 2.9g
Of course, since you should only include about a handful of nuts a day, you should also eat other low-calorie foods such as vegetables.
What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol in the blood doesnt move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins .
Low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein are the lipoproteines that most of us have heard about.
Low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, can build up on the walls of the arteries. Cholesterol and other substances in the blood form plaque . Plaque buildup can make blood vessels become stiffer, narrower, or blocked. Plaque makes it easier for blood clots to form. A blood clot can block a narrowed artery and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Atherosclerosis , or hardening of the arteries, also leads to decreased blood flow to vital organs, including the brain, intestines, and kidneys.
High-density lipoproteins, or good cholesterol, carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. In the liver, cholesterol is broken down and removed from the body.
High levels of LDL and low levels of HDL increase a persons risk of heart disease.
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What Are The Dangers Of A Low Fat Diet
Some of the main arguments for including more fat in the diet have to do with fats ability to control hormones, especially insulin. Risks associated with a low-fat diet include hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance, which are often associated with diabetes, weight gain, gut problems, cognitive decline, etc.
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Clinical Walnut Components Acute Feeding Study
Fifteen subjects with a BMI of 25 to 39 kg/m2, LDL 110 mg/dL and triglycerides < 350 mg/dL completed a randomized, controlled, four-period, postprandial feeding study. During each of the four visits to the General Clinical Research Center, participants consumed one of the four test diets. The four test diets were randomly provided as 85 g of ground whole walnuts, 34 g of ground de-fatted walnut meat, 51 g of walnut oil or 5.6 g of ground defatted walnut skins. Gram weights of meat, skin and oil fractions were derived from 85 g of whole walnuts. After a baseline blood-draw, participants consumed one of the four walnut components incorporated into diet Jell-OTM over a 10 to 15 min period. At 1, 2, 4, 6 h postprandially, whole blood was drawn. Blood was centrifuged for 15 min to separate sera and stored at -80 °C before use. In between each of the four visits, participants had a 3- to 4-week break, during which they consumed a low antioxidant diet advised by a dietician. The informed consent was written and agreed by all participants. The clinical study conformed to the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki, and was approved and conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Institutional Review Board of The Pennsylvania State University. The clinical study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov Risk Reduction).
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What Do Your Cholesterol Levels Mean
Cholesterol is a type of fat that has many important functions in the body. The body makes a lot of cholesterol on its own.
We require an optimal balance of cholesterol, but, we can disrupt this balance with a poor diet, inactivity, stress, and more.
When your doctor draws a cholesterol blood panel, they are usually looking at four things: triglycerides , LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol.
How Elevated Cholesterol Harms Health
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs in small amounts to function properly. Problems arise when levels of bad cholesterol rise in your blood and remain elevated over time. This waxy substance can harden, block arteries and cause heart attacks and stroke. For this reason its recommended that you aim to keep your total cholesterol under 200 milligrams per deciliter.
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Other Markers Of Cardiovascular Disease
Other identified risk factors for CVD were mentioned in our systematic literature search of clinical trials of walnut-based diets. Of these risk factors, few reached statistical significance and were consistent across studies. Apolipoproteins A-I and B outcomes were reported in 7 studies, 3 of which found significantly greater decreases in apo B for the walnut group than for the control group . Oxidative stress is a feature of atherosclerosis and was measured via LDL-cholesterol-conjugated diene formation in 3 walnut intervention trials . There was no effect of walnuts on in vitro lag time in these studies. Other markers of oxidative stress, which included oxidized LDL cholesterol, malondialdehyde, lipid peroxidation, and uric acid, all maintained baseline concentrations across all interventions, indicating no increased oxidative stress over the duration of the trials . Importantly, resistance to oxidation was maintained despite reported increases in lipid particle enrichment with polyunsaturated fatty acids . General antioxidant capacity was evaluated in 2 studies, both of which found significant decreases in oxidized glutathione during the walnut diet phase compared with the control phase . The other common marker between the 2 studies was glutathione, but only 1 study found significantly decreased concentrations . Other markers of antioxidant capacity were improved with a walnut diet in individual studies, but have yet to be evaluated in other trials.