Eat Less Refined Food
It is best to avoid refined food whenever possible.
Refined and packaged foods tend to have ingredients that make them shelf-stable while also giving them a desirable flavor.
These foods often include ingredients that a person should avoid when they are looking to reduce their cholesterol.
Among the ingredients to avoid are refined grains, added trans and saturated fats, and added sugars.
Several lifestyle factors can affect a persons cholesterol levels. Some people may find that making certain changes to their lifestyle helps lower their cholesterol.
How Long Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol
How low should you go?
And if you get your cholesterol down, are you home free? Protected from ever having a heart attack? What role does genetics play? Find out in this article.
Healthy lifestyle approaches like the Pritikin Program have been documented in medical journals to significantly reduce cholesterol levels within three weeks.
Consider Swapping Saturated Fats For Unsaturated Fats
For some, making small changes like the ones listed above wont be enough to produce a meaningful change in LDL. Instead, they may need to reduce saturated fat from all sources and replace it with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. In practice, that means less beef, cheese, and cream and more fish, macadamia nuts, avocados, and olive oil.
Liquid polyunsaturated fats, such as seed oils, remain a point of contention. This is because observational studies show a small cardiac benefit, but randomized, controlled trials show they can reduce LDL but may increase both cardiovascular events and risk of dying.8 Furthermore, mechanistic data suggest seed oils can increase oxidation and inflammation, although clinical trials havent shown this.9 See more in our evidence-based guide to vegetable oils.
Many people find that reducing or eliminating saturated fats while still remaining on a LCHF diet successfully lowers LDL cholesterol. The more pressing question is if this is a sustainable eating pattern. The answer is highly individualized and requires personal experimentation.
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Our Dietitian Heather Gives You The Lowdown On Vegan Diets And Cholesterol For National Cholesterol Month
This year, the theme of HEART UKs National Cholesterol Month is Lets Talk About Cholesterol. This got me thinking about how vegans might be affected by issues relating to cholesterol and heart health. Its also a great opportunity to introduce some new resources geared towards people with high cholesterol.
The Good And The Bad: Hdl Vs Ldl Cholesterol
Two different types of lipoproteins transport cholesterol around the body:
- High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, are considered healthy.
- And low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, are the problematic ones that can drop cholesterol right into the bloodstream, which then makes its way to develop plaque on artery walls.
Why is LDL so problematic? The plaque that they form on arteries builds up over time and eventually narrows the pathways, making blood flow more difficult over time. Ultimately, that pressure can make artery walls rupture, leading to blood clots that can block blood flow, partially or entirely.
Blocked arteries are the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes, depending on where the blood blockage exists.
Sometimes, your LDL may be in the normal range and still be problematic for your body. That’s because not only do overall levels matter, but so do the balance of the two. If you don’t have too much LDL in the body, but your good cholesterol levels are too low, it can cause an unhealthy imbalance.
The best time to start caring for your cholesterol levels is before they become a problem it’s never too early to begin monitoring your cholesterol and keeping your overall intake low.
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Dangers Of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of cells, nerves and hormones.
Although your body needs cholesterol, excess cholesterol can build up and form a fatty plaque on the walls of the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood to vital areas of the body. If plaque continues to build long-term, it can significantly increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
So what causes high cholesterol? Believe it or not, the answer goes way beyond a high cholesterol diet.
While cholesterol is normally kept in balance, an unhealthy diet high in hydrogenated fats and refined carbohydrates can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to increased cholesterol levels. This imbalance is manifested in elevated LDL and low HDL , which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Other causes can include physical inactivity, diabetes, stress and hypothyroidism.
But keep in mind that not all cholesterol is created equally. LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, is the form that can build up on the artery walls and increase your risk of heart disease. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is often dubbed good cholesterol because it travels through the bloodstream, removing harmful cholesterol from the arteries to help enhance heart health.
Prepare Your Food A Little Differently
Its not only what you eat its how you eat it. Just as you can change what you buy in the grocery store, you can also choose healthier ways to make your food that help lower your cholesterol naturally. For example:
- Trim fat and remove the skin when cooking meat or fish. This helps you get the protein while reducing fat intake.
- Focus on boiling, broiling, baking, poaching or grilling. These are better methods of preparation than deep frying or breading, which can bring in extra fat.
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Where Does Bad Cholesterol Come From
According to Dr. Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org, LDL cholesterol is found in trans fats, which is found in processed foods and naturally in meat and dairy. The Mayo Clinic notes that this trans fats are double trouble for heart health due to the fact that it raises LDL levels while lowering good HDL levels.
Trans fat is added to processed foods through an industrial process where hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, which allows the oil to be solid at room temperature. On ingredients labels, its called partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and it is used to give many packaged foods a longer shelf life. It is also used for deep-frying by some restaurants because partially hydrogenated oil does not need to be changed as often.
Foods that typically contain trans fats include commercial baked goods, snacks like chips and crackers, refrigerated dough such as cinnamon rolls and pizza crusts, fried foods, and margarine. Cheese, butter, and processed meat like bacon, breakfast sausages, ham, and hot dogs are also high in bad cholesterol.
Vegans Typically Have Lower Triglyceride Levels
Observational studies look at subjects as they currently are, without having them modify behavior.
A 2007 study looked at the cholesterol and triglyceride markers for 76 individuals that fell into 4 main diet groups :
Heres a summary of the main results were interested in:
The mean level of triglycerides for vegans was about half of the levels in omnivores .
Theres quite a large standard deviation, but with a significant p-value, we can be pretty confident that in general, vegans have significantly lower levels of triglycerides.
Also note that similar reductions were seen in both vegetarian groups.
Finally, note that this effect was still preserved even after the authors controlled for age, gender, and smoking habits.
In general, the vegetarians and vegans you see walking around in daily life have lower triglycerides than omnivores.
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Within 1 Month: Your Complexion Will Improve
One of the most significant changes Mimkhas clients who adopt a plant-only diet experience is a clearer complexion. When you eliminate animal products, especially dairy, youre reducing your intake of pro-inflammatory foods, which tend to cause acne, she says. Cut out the inflammation and your skin and pores can stay cleaner, unclogged, and allow naturally cell turnover without looking dull or red.
How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally In 28 Simple Steps
There are tons of natural remedies out there for how to lower cholesterol levels, often promising quick results with next to no effort required on your part. But while its true that there are tons of options to keep cholesterol levels in check, it can actually be as simple as swapping out a few foods in your diet for healthier options, switching up your workout routine or adding a supplement or two into the mix.
Ready to get started? Lets take a look at 28 simple methods for how to lower cholesterol and how it can impact your health.
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Direct Measurement Of Ldl Particle Concentrations
There are several competing methods for measurement of lipoprotein particle concentrations and size. The evidence is that the NMR methodology results in a 22-25% reduction in cardiovascular events within one year,contrary to the longstanding claims by many in the medical industry that the superiority over existing methods was weak, even by statements of some proponents.
Since the later 1990s, because of the development of NMR measurements, it has been possible to clinically measure lipoprotein particles at lower cost and higher accuracy. There are two other assays for LDL particles, however, like LDL-C, most only estimate LDL particle concentrations.
Direct LDL particle measurement by NMR was mentioned by the ADA and ACC, in a 28 March 2008 joint consensus statement, as having advantages for predicting individual risk of atherosclerosis disease events, but the statement noted that the test is less widely available, is more expensive ]. Debate continues that it is “…unclear whether LDL particle size measurements add value to measurement of LDL-particle concentration”, though outcomes have always tracked LDL particle, not LDL-C, concentrations.
The LDL particle concentrations are typically categorized by percentiles, < 20%, 2050%, 50th80th%, 80th95% and > 95% groups of the people participating and being tracked in the MESA trial, a medical research study sponsored by the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
What Foods Decrease Risk Of High Cholesterol
Randomized clinical trials have shown specific foods that lower cholesterol levels. The Portfolio diet combined four of these foods, each with a different mechanism of action, to get maximum cholesterol lowering results 7. The four cholesterol-lowering food components of the Portfolio diet are:
A fifth food, legumes, are not specifically included in the Portfolio diet but legumes have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels 14.
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Within 1 Year: Your Arteries Will Be Less Clogged
Clogged arteries have a major consequence: Heart attacks and strokes. Yet if youre religious about eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, that clogging and hardening is stopped in its tracks. The longer you stay plant-based, the more your blood vessels can recover. What was once narrowing and constricting healthy blood flow begins to open up, in some cases, so year after year, your heart disease or symptoms can actually reverse themselves. After five years your body acts younger than the day you gave up meat, so keep it up, since eating a whole-food plant-based diet continues to have improvements for five years and more, Kahn says.
Changes For The Better
We have come a long way in the last 60 years in understanding the root causes of heart disease. Way back in the Rat Pack days, when the physiologist Ancel Keys first started peering into arteries and finding fatty deposits in the vascular system of middle-aged males, the thought was that fat and cholesterol from food were somehow literally oozing into our blood vessels and clogging them up: a kind of plumbing problem. But as medical research has become more fine-scaled in its ability to identify nuanced pathways, weve come to understand that coronary artery disease is a multi-factor issue, one that hinges on a complicated interlinking dynamic of diet, lifestyle and genes.
When I let Greger know that Id lowered my LDL by more than 40 points he was pleased, but not particularly surprised. Most of his patients, he said, saw a 30% reduction in LDL in just a few weeks after switching to a vegan diet. This is partially due to actual changes the diet seems to engender in the functioning of the liver, but also because the switch generally drops your weight. And weight has a considerable correlation with cholesterol. Greger explained that for every pound lost, people also tended to shed about one point of LDL. Seeing as I was still above the normal BMI range, I decided to up my exercise and see if I could knock both numbers down.
Since I had already been doing 30 minutes a day, I upped my dose to the upper part of Levines range and started running 45 minutes daily.
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Why Do Some Vegans Have High Triglyceride Levels
Theres something you need to understand about those above studies.
The vegan diets in these studies are designed to be healthy. In other words, theyre not eating vegan junk food or tons of white bread and fake meats , but instead whole foods like beans and vegetables.
For example, another study by one of those above authors also found that putting people on a very high fiber vegan diet led to a decrease in all cholesterol markers .
Theres one more study that we need to look at to get a complete picture.
This study found that diets high in processed carbohydrates increase triglycerides, while diets high in fiber and low-glycemic index foods lower triglycerides .
Can You Lower Cholesterol Through Diet Alone
18-Dec-19·6 mins read
You are what you eat – and what you drink, how much exercise you do and your genetics.
“Cholesterol levels are affected by a number of factors, some you can’t do anything about – for example, family history, age, ethnicity and gender – and some you can,” says Lynne Garton, Dietetic Advisor for HEART UK. “An unhealthy diet high in saturated fat, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and not being physically active can all contribute to raised ‘bad’ cholesterol.”
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Know Your Carbohydrate Threshold
The last option to consider is increasing the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Sometimes it pays to ask, do you need to be in ketosis? Or would a low-carb diet of 50 or even 100 grams of carbs suffice for your health goals?
If you have controlled your diabetes and want to make sure it remains controlled, then you might need to remain in ketosis. If, however, you tried a ketogenic diet primarily to reduce your cravings and lose a little weight, you may find you can safely increase your carb intake.13 See our detailed guide on carbohydrate intake for more information.
The important point is being mindful and honest with yourself about how things change when you add in more carbs. And remember, not all carbs are the same. Even if you raise your daily carb intake to 100 grams per day, that doesnt mean grains and sugars are back on the menu.
Try to stick with starchy veggies, fruits and legumes as your main source of new carbs. If you notice a return of your cravings, a loss of control, or other negative effects, you may want to go back to a stricter carb limit in order to avoid undoing the health progress youve made.
How Does A Vegan Diet Lower Cholesterol
According to PCRM, there are several ways by which a vegan diet might lower cholesterol. Vegan diets tend to be naturally low in fat and high in soluble fiber, which both slows the production of cholesterol in the liver and reduces the absorption of cholesterol from other dietary sources. And seeing that cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods , and never found in plant-based foods, vegan diets don’t add any additional cholesterol to the party.
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How Fast Can A Vegetarian Diet Lower Cholesterol
Dietary changes, such as eating a plant-based diet, can have health benefits pretty quickly. Some studies have found that plant-based diets can cause minor reductions in cholesterol in just 4 weeks. Most people, however, should expect to see a noticeable difference in their cholesterol levels after a few months of eating a heart-healthy diet.
What Are The Cholesterol Benefits Of A Vegetarian Diet
A 2015 analysis published in the Journal of American Heart Association looked at whether a strict vegetarian diet could help lower cholesterol levels. The study included people from around the world, ranging in age from 20s to 50s, some of whom had tried medication to treat high cholesterol.
The most common type of vegetarian diet tried by the participants in the study was a vegan diet that excluded meat, eggs, and dairy products. The second most common diet was a lacto-ovo diet in which the participants avoided meats but ate dairy and eggs. Cholesterol levels were followed in these individuals for more than 6 years and compared to those who ate omnivorous diets.
The researchers found that those on a vegetarian diet significantly reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol . However, there was no significant change in triglyceride levels regardless of diet. The vegetarians also had a reduction in HDL . Interestingly, the people who ate a vegan or vegetarian diet were more likely to lose weight .
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