Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Am I at risk for heart disease?
- How often should I get my cholesterol tested?
- What are my cholesterol levels? What do they mean?
- What lifestyle changes do I need to make to help improve my cholesterol levels and heart health?
- Is there a chance that Ill need cholesterol-lowering medicine?
- What are the risks and benefits of taking this medicine?
Saturated And Unsaturated Fat
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- cakes and biscuits
- foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels.
Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with small amounts of foods high in unsaturated fats, such as:
- oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
- nuts such as almonds and cashews
- seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oils and spreads such as rapeseed or vegetable oil, sunflower, olive, corn and walnut oils
Eat Foods High In Fiber
Eating foods that are high in fiber helps in many ways besides lowering LDL cholesterol. Foods that are high in soluble fiber are better at lowering LDL cholesterol. Its best to slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet. This prevents stomach aches, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. To increase the fiber in your diet:
Eat 2-4 servings of fruit and 4-8servings of non-starchy vegetables per day.
Make most of your grains wholegrains such as wheat, barley, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, or oat bran.
Have beans or nuts as a topping on salads or as the protein in a veggie wrap.
Include oat bran, oatmeal, barley, legumes, and ground flax seed more often as they are high in soluble fiber.
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Health Conditions Related To Triglycerides And Cholesterol
High blood lipid levels may increase your risk for plaques to develop in your arteries or thicken the walls of your arteries .
Other health conditions related to high triglycerides or cholesterol include:
- High blood sugar levels or diabetes
- Metabolic syndromea cluster of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease
- Genetic conditions
Use Polyunsaturated Fats Especially Omega
Polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds that make them behave differently in the body than saturated fats. Research shows that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
For example, one study replaced saturated fats in 115 adults diets with polyunsaturated fats for 8 weeks. By the end of the study, total and LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by about 10% .
Polyunsaturated fats also may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Another study changed the diets of 4,220 adults, replacing 5% of their calories from carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fats. Their blood glucose and fasting insulin levels decreased, indicating a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes .
Omega-3 fatty acids are an especially heart-healthy type of polyunsaturated fat. Theyre found in seafood and fish oil supplements. Especially high amounts occur in fatty fish like:
- deep sea tuna like bluefin or albacore
- shellfish , including shrimp
Other sources of omega-3s include seeds and tree nuts, but not peanuts.
All polyunsaturated fats are heart-healthy and may reduce the risk of diabetes. Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat with extra heart benefits.
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process called hydrogenation. This is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable.
The resulting trans fats are not fully saturated and are called partially hydrogenated oils .
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What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is made by your liver. Its a waxy substance that your body uses to build cells, among other processes.
Eating fatty foods and oils can cause your liver to make extra cholesterol. It can also come from the meat and dairy products in your diet.
LDL cholesterol is whats known as bad cholesterol. High LDL can also be linked to high triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that comes from your diet.
If you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up into a hard, waxy substance in your arteries, called plaque. When this happens, your arteries become narrow and less flexible.
Simple Ways To Naturally Lower Cholesterol Levels
What is cholesterol and how do you lower cholesterol without taking drugs prescribed from your doctor?
Cholesterol, a waxy substance that the body uses to make hormones and other important substances. Its also found in some foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, and whole-milk dairy products.
The level of cholesterol in your blood is called blood cholesterol. If its too high over time, you may develop heart disease or stroke.
We have all heard that having a high cholesterol level can lead to many life-threatening conditions, but did you know that there is good and bad cholesterol?
The good cholesterol is called HDL Cholesterol, while the bad is called LDL Cholesterol.
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Will Stopping Smoking Lower My Cholesterol
If you’re a smoker you might already know you should stop if you have high cholesterol. Smoking increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- If youre struggling to stop smoking, talking to your GP is a great first step, or if youre in England you can call the NHS Stop Smoking Service on 0300 123 1044.
- There are also free services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
These services will be able to give you useful advice on how to deal with cravings and gradually stop smoking.
Find out more about what smoking does to your body.
Should I Stop Drinking If I Have High Cholesterol
Cutting down on alcohol will help your liver to work better at removing bad cholesterol. It may also improve your heart health in other ways by helping you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Our top tips for drinking alcohol are to:
- drink less than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have a few days each week where you dont drink at all
- avoid binge drinking by drinking half what you usually would
- order a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Read more of our advice on alcohol.By making some of these small changes you should see your cholesterol levels go down.
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Include A Vegetarian Style Meal Once Per Week
Eating plant proteins from beans, peas, lentils, soy, and nuts may help lower your LDL cholesterol. Including soy protein from soybeans, edamame, soy nuts, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy yogurt, or textured soy protein may help lower your LDL cholesterol. See how much soy protein you get from some soy-based foods below:
½ cup cooked soybeans = 14 g
½ cup edamame = 11 g
¼ cup soy nuts = 15 g
½ cup tofu = 10 g
½ cup tempeh = 15 g
¼ cup textured soy protein, dry =11 g
1 cup soy milk = 7 g
1 cup soy yogurt = 5 g
Putting Together A Low Cholesterol Diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber soy protein and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
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Why Try To Reduce Cholesterol Without Medication
You might not want to take medication to bring your cholesterol down for several reasons.
Statins are a type of medication used to manage high cholesterol. The side effects of statins may be seen by some as worse than the risks of having high cholesterol. These side effects can include:
- muscle pain
, you should get your cholesterol levels checked:
- every 5 years after you turn age 20
- more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular conditions
Natural Ways To Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
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Cholesterol is made in your liver and has many important functions. For example, it helps keep the walls of your cells flexible and is needed to make several hormones.
However, like anything in the body, too much cholesterol creates concerns.
Like fat, cholesterol does not dissolve in water. Instead, to move around the body, it depends on molecules called lipoproteins. These carry cholesterol, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins in your blood.
Different kinds of lipoproteins have different effects on health. For example, high levels of low-density lipoprotein results in cholesterol deposits in blood vessel walls, which can lead to (
- heart attack
- kidney failure
In contrast, high-density lipoprotein helps carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and helps prevent these conditions (
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Add These Foods To Lower Ldl Cholesterol
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
1. Oats. An easy first step to lowering your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber.
2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
Green Tea: Antioxidants Help Lower Ldl Cholesterol
All varieties of antioxidant-rich tea can help lower LDL. Green tea, which is particularly rich in the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate , has shown the best results. EGCG lowered LDL cholesterol levels by about 9 milligrams per deciliter in 17 trials reviewed in the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition in September 2016.
Unlike other teas, which are made from fermented leaves, green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG from being oxidized. While some studies have been done with an intake of seven or more cups a day, drinking a few cups of green tea daily should help and will keep you from getting too much caffeine. Preparing your green tea with loose tea, rather than tea bags, provides more EGCG.
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Beans: Healthy Pintos And Garbanzos Stand Out
All types of beans and other legumes pinto, red, white, navy, black, garbanzo, lima, and lentil, for example are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Fiber binds to cholesterol-laden bile salts in the small intestine and promotes their excretion along with waste. When this happens, the liver must use more cholesterol to produce more bile salts, therefore lowering the amount of cholesterol available to make LDL.
Still, results of nutrition surveys published in January 2016 in PLoS One show that awareness of the cholesterol-lowering benefits of beans is low. Eating as little as one half cup of cooked pinto beans per day may lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol significantly, noted a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June 2007.
Getting Accurate Test Results
Getting a cholesterol test is easy. It involves having a tubes worth of blood drawn from your arm during a routine visit to your physician. The preparation, however, takes a little effort to ensure the most accurate reading. Food and drink can affect your triglyceride level, so you should fast for 12 hours beforehand. You should also avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours before the test. You can drink water and take most medications you normally use, as these should not affect the test results. If you are not sure about your medications, check with your doctor before getting the test done.
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Exercise On Most Days
Engaging in moderate exercise can help raise your HDL cholesterol while boosting your overall cardiovascular health. If youre fairly sedentary now, start with small amounts, working your way up to 30 minutes of exercise five times each week. If you prefer more vigorous aerobic exercise, 20 minutes three times a week will suffice.
Consider Plant Sterols And Stanols
Multiple types of supplements show promise for managing cholesterol.
Plant stanols and sterols are plant versions of cholesterol. Because they resemble cholesterol, they are absorbed from the diet like cholesterol.
However, because parts of their chemistry are different from human cholesterol, they do not contribute to clogged arteries.
Instead, they reduce cholesterol levels by competing with human cholesterol. When plant sterols are absorbed from the diet, this replaces the absorption of cholesterol.
Small amounts of plant stanols and sterols are naturally found in vegetable oils and are added to certain oils and butter substitutes.
A research review reported that clinical studies show that taking 1.53 grams of plant sterols/stanols daily can reduce LDL concentration by 7.512%. Researchers said taking it with a main meal twice per day allows for optimal cholesterol-lowering .
Although research has established the cholesterol-lowering benefit of plant stanols and sterols, it has not yet proved that they decrease the risk of heart disease. Numerous clinical trials have suggested that plant sterols supplements and enriched foods may lower heart disease risk, but hard data is still lacking .
Plant stanols and sterols in vegetable oil or margarines compete with cholesterol absorption and reduce LDL by up to 20%. They are not proven to reduce heart disease.
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A Guide To Healthy Eating: Strategies Tips And Recipes To Help You Make Better Food Choices
Eat real food. Thats the essence of todays nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvards Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices describes how to eat for optimum health.
Ldl Cholesterol: How Low Can You Go
- By Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD, Contributor
Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is a clearly established risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease . Lowering LDL with medications and/or lifestyle changes has been shown to lower CVD risk. Just how far to lower LDL, however, has remained controversial.
Current guidelines developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and several other professional organizations recommend lowering elevated LDL levels to 70 milligrams per deciliter in people with high-risk CVD. However, recent studies have suggested that CVD risk may continue to drop as LDL is lowered beyond these targets, leading some cardiologists to believe that our current guidelines are not aggressive enough. Others are concerned that lowering LDL too much may lead to harm.
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Goals For Your Cholesterol Levels
It’s best to keep your total cholesterol level below 200. Women of any age should have an HDL level of 40 or higher.
If you already have heart disease or diabetes, or your doctor estimates that your 10-year risk of heart disease is 20 percent or higher, try to keep your LDL level below 100.
If you do not have heart disease or diabetes, but you have two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL cholesterol level below 130. Major risk factors are age over 55 cigarette smoking high blood pressure low HDL a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65.
If you have fewer than two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL level below 160.