When Habits Need A Helping Hand
If lifestyle changes havenât helped enough, your doctor may suggest adding a prescription medicine. Fibrates, niacin, statins, and high-dose fish oil are a few of the options. Your doctor will look at all your blood fats â triglycerides and all types of cholesterol â to decide the best way to protect your heart.
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Foods That Fight High Cholesterol
It’s easy to eat your way to an alarmingly high cholesterol level. And the reverse is true too changing what you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the composition of the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and “good fats” are all part of a heart-healthy diet. But some foods are particularly good at helping bring down cholesterol.
How? Some cholesterol-lowering foods deliver a good dose of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Others provide polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. And those with plant sterols and stanols keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. Here are 5 of those foods:
Can You Eat More Fruit Vegetables And Fibre
Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This will provide you with fibre and a range of vitamins while also keeping your plate varied and colourful.
Some fruit and veg also contain soluble fibre which can help lower cholesterol. Other foods that contain soluble fibre include oats, beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas, so you can keep it interesting by mixing it up.
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How Can Fat Affect Your Health
You need some fat in your diet for your body to work properly and to absorb other nutrients from the food you eat.
Fats are very high in energy and any fats your body doesnt use is stored as body fat. Its important not to eat too much fat because being overweight will raise your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Eating too much fat, especially saturated fats, also raises the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is a fatty substance made by the liver from the fat we eat. Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, but if there is too much it can , making them narrower so less blood can flow through them.
This process is called atherosclerosis, and it raises your risk of and .
If you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol together, this speeds up the process of atherosclerosis, raising the risks further, especially if you or have . Keeping an eye on your fat intake will help to lower your cholesterol levels and your risk of serious illness.
How Long Does It Take To Reduce Cholesterol
Cholesterol drops over time, not suddenly, after a few days of healthier living. There is no set period in which cholesterol is guaranteed to drop.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs usually produce a change in LDL within 6 to 8 weeks. It is possible for lifestyle changes to change cholesterol levels within weeks. However, it may take longer,
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 milligrams per deciliter
- LDL bad cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL good cholesterol: higher than 60 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL
According to an article in the journal , the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend using statins to lower cholesterol in people with cholesterol higher outside of these levels.
However, they also recommend doctors consider a persons cholesterol levels and overall risk of cardiovascular disease before prescribing a cholesterol-lowering medication.
The AHA recommends that people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease get high-intensity statin therapy maximally tolerated statin therapy to lower LDL by at least 50%.
The AHA also recommends high-intensity statin therapy for individuals with severe primary hypercholesterolemia .
There are a number of habit changes a person can incorporate into their daily routines in order to gradually and consistently lower their LDL levels over time. Including:
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Are You Serious About Reducing Cholesterol
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Foods Rich In Unsaturated Fats
- vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- avocado, nuts and seeds
- fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive oil
- oily fish
Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats. Aim to eat two portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily. A portion is 140g, but you could have two or three smaller portions throughout the week. Tinned, frozen or fresh all count e.g. salmon, sardines, pilchards, trout, herring and mackerel.
Avoid coconut and palm oil as, unlike other vegetable oils, they are high in saturated fat.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between Hdl And Ldl Cholesterol
Cholesterol doesnt dissolve in blood. To be transported in the bloodstream, cholesterol is packed into two types of carriers: low-density lipoproteins or high-density lipoproteins . LDL cholesterol, which is sometimes known as bad cholesterol, is necessary in limited quantities , but high LDL cholesterol levels can dramatically increase your risk of a heart attack. Thats because LDL particles can contribute to atherosclerosisor clogged arteries. HDL cholesterolsometimes called good cholesterolhelps clear LDL cholesterol from the arteries.
When doctors measure cholesterol levels, they first look at total cholesterol as a quick way to assess a persons risk. For a more exact guide, they divide the total level by the HDL level. Heart attack risk is minimized by having a lower total cholesterol and a higher proportion of HDL cholesterol. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 4 to 1.
Unfortunately, the average American man has a ratio of 5 to 1. Vegetarians, on the other hand, average about 3 to 1. Smoking and obesity lower HDL vigorous exercise and foods rich in vitamin C may increase it.
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How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day|
|69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include:
Home Remedy For Lower Cholesterol #9 An Apple A Day Really May Keep The Doctor Away
My grandmother Catherine always loved to say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It turns out she was probably right.
A 2011 study by researchers from Florida State University found that older women who ate apples every day reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 23% within six months and increased HDL cholesterol levels by 4%.
The apple eating women also lost an average of 3.3 pounds.
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Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure
Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.
So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with , regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with . Use the to see where your numbers sit.
If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.
Making sure your readings arent a one-off
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.
Your doctor or nurse will probably want to measure your blood pressure a number of times over a few weeks to make sure the reading wasnt just a one off and that your blood pressure stays high over time.
Read about how , getting a , the you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and .
Find out why systolic blood pressure is the most important when it comes to keeping an eye on your numbers.
How To Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home
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What Are The Risks Linked To High Cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease .
The excess LDL cholesterol leads to fatty deposits called plaque forming in the artery walls. Over time, the plaque causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries .
This can lead to:
- Angina when plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply your heart, known as the coronary arteries, they become narrower and are partially blocked, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. This may cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
- Heart attack if a plaque in a coronary artery bursts , a clot may form and block the supply of blood to the heart, starving it of oxygen.
- Stroke if the blood vessels that supply the brain become narrower or blocked by plaque, blood supply to the brain can be severely reduced or cut off, causing a stroke. Strokes can also be caused when a clot from another part of the body travels through the blood and lodges in an artery in the brain.
- Peripheral vascular disease this usually affects the arteries that supply the legs and feet, causing leg pain when walking , and even pain when resting, when the circulation is more badly affected
A high level of HDL cholesterol is good because HDL cholesterol helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the blood, taking them back to the liver where they’re removed from the blood and passed out of the body.
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.
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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
The Blood Pressure Chart
Once you know your numbers, you can use the blood pressure chart to see what they mean and if your blood pressure is in the healthy range. The chart is suitable for adults of any age, as the cut-off point for diagnosing high blood pressure doesnt change with age.
How to use the blood pressure chart
Simply find your top number on the left side of the chart and your bottom number on the bottom. Where the two lines meet is your blood pressure.
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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.