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:
Tips To Fix Your Cholesterol Without Medication
The singular focus on treating cholesterol as a means to prevent heart attacks is leading to the deaths of millions of people because the real underlying cause of the majority of heart disease is not being diagnosed or treated by most physicians.
For example, I recently saw a patient named Jim who had “normal” cholesterol levels yet was taking the most powerful statin on the market, Crestor. Despite this aggressive pharmaceutical treatment, this man was headed for a serious heart attack. Jim’s doctors had missed his real disease risks by focusing on and treating his cholesterol levels. All the while they were ignoring the most important condition that put him at dramatically higher risk of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and dementia. In a moment I will explain what this condition is and what you can do about it.
This craze for treating cholesterol has lead to an onslaught of pharmaceuticals designed to “lower cholesterol.” Statins are now the number one selling class of drugs in the nation and new cholesterol medications are produced every day. The latest in a new class of “super” cholesterol drugs, CETP inhibitors, now in the drug approval pipeline from Merck burst into the news recently with exclamations from typically restrained scientists. Data on this new drug was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago.
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The Link Between Dietary And Blood Cholesterol
The liver produces as much cholesterol as your body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in whats called very low-density lipoproteins .
As VLDL delivers fat to cells throughout the body, it changes into the more dense LDL, which carries cholesterol wherever it is needed.
The liver also releases HDL, which then carries unused cholesterol back to the liver. This process is called reverse cholesterol transport, and it protects against clogged arteries and other types of heart disease.
Some lipoproteins, especially LDL and VLDL, are prone to damage by free radicals in a process called oxidation. Oxidized LDL and VLDL are even more harmful to heart health .
Although food companies often advertise products as being low in cholesterol, recent research has shown that dietary cholesterol actually has only a small influence on the amount of cholesterol in the body .
This is because the liver changes the amount of cholesterol it makes depending on how much you eat. When your body absorbs more cholesterol from your diet, it makes less in the liver.
Current guidelines by leading U.S. health organizations for lowering risk of heart disease no longer contain specific recommended levels for dietary cholesterol, including the:
- American Heart Association (
- 7 )
The guidelines do recommend moderating cholesterol consumption, but this is more to limit the saturated fat that often accompanies cholesterol in foods than to limit intake of cholesterol itself .
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Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Just By Changing Your Diet
Statins are used to lower cholesterol but how much can be achieved with changes to diet alone, asks Michael Mosley.
Over the many years that I’ve been making science documentaries I’ve covered a huge range of subjects, but there is one that is of particular personal interest. My family tree is riddled with heart disease and I know that, unchecked, my cholesterol scores tend to soar.
I am not alone – 60% of people in Britain have cholesterol levels that are too high and increasingly we are recommended to go on statins. Yet statins have side effects and many people are reluctant to go on a lifetime of pills.
So, for the current series of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, we wanted to see if you could lower your cholesterol just as effectively by changing your diet.
We asked Dr Scott Harding from Kings College London to help us set up and run a small study. With his help we recruited 42 volunteers, all of whom had concerns about their cholesterol and were keen to see what they could do without taking medication.
We started by taking blood samples to look at their current levels of total cholesterol.
Cholesterol is complicated stuff. Most of it is made in the liver and then sent to the cells that need it, bound to a lipoprotein called LDL .
LDL is often called “bad cholesterol” because high levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because it carries cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver.
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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Healthy Eating Tips To Lower Cholesterol
As well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, try these tips to help you manage your cholesterol:
- Limit takeaway foods to once a week .
- Limit salty, fatty and sugary snack foods to once a week .
- Eat plenty of vegetables aim for 5 serves of vegetables every day. .
- Choose wholegrain breads, cereal, pasta, rice and noodles.
- Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit .
- Include legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, split peas), beans into at least two meals a week. Check food labels and choose the lowest sodium products.
- Use spreads and margarines made from healthy unsaturated fats instead of those made with saturated fat .
- Use healthy oils for cooking some include canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Use salad dressings and mayonnaise made from oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Include 2 or 3 serves of plant-sterol-enriched foods every day .
- Have 2 to 3 portions of oily fish every week. Fish may be fresh, frozen or canned.
- Include up to 7 eggs every week.
- Select lean meat and limit unprocessed red meat to less than 350g per week.
- Choose reduced fat, no added sugar milk, yoghurt, or calcium-added non-dairy food and drinks.
- Limit or avoid processed meats including sausages and deli meats .
If you are having trouble with your cholesterol levels, a dietitian can help you to eat healthily for your specific needs.
Are You Serious About Reducing Cholesterol
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What Are Early Signs Of Fh
When you have FH, early detection of high cholesterol levels is key to getting the treatment that can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to family history of early cardiovascular problems, you may also notice lumps forming under your skin.
These fatty deposits are called xanthomas, and are particularly noticeable around tendons in the hands, knees, Achilles tendons and elbows, and under the skin around your eyes. Sometimes an ophthalmologist may spot signs of cholesterol deposits in your eyes as well.
Whether or not you have obvious signs of high cholesterol, you should get checked if heart disease runs in your family. Talk to your family doctor about your concerns a simple blood test is all it takes to see if your cholesterol levels are in the healthy range. A high cholesterol level at a young age is a particular red flag that you may have FH. If your doctor suspects you have the condition, you can undergo genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis.
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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When To Consider A Statin
Generally speaking, the American College of Cardiology and the AHA advise statins for:
Adults of any age with CVD with atherosclerosis or a past heart attack or stroke. The goal is to get your LDL under 70, and even lower is better, says Steven Nissen, MD, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. If you already have heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke, aim for at least under 70, he says. Under 55 is ideal.
Many adults with type 2 diabetes. For those between ages 40 and 75, the ACC and AHA advise moderate-intensity doses of statins like atorvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, or simvastatin, and high-intensity doses of statins like atorvastatin or rosuvastatin for those with multiple risk factors for CVD . Over age 75, the groups say that a statin might be reasonable if youve discussed the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Adults ages 40 to 70 with an LDL level of 190 or above. In this case, the AHA-ACC recommends the highest-dose statin you can safely tolerate.
Nuts And Seeds: Full Of Protein Plus Good Fat
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are all excellent , heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When substituted for saturated fat in the diet, nuts and seeds help lower LDL cholesterol without affecting levels of good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It’s good to know that by eating nuts you cut your heart disease risk. Since nuts and seeds are calorie-dense, you’ll need to limit your daily intake to about 1 ounce and also make sure the nuts aren’t salted or coated with sugar.
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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
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:
Can Exercise Help To Lower Cholesterol
Yes it can. Getting your blood pumping by doing exercise will reduce your cholesterol. Being active helps your body move the bad cholesterol to your liver where it can be removed out of your system.
You dont have to join a gym or go on long runs if you dont enjoy it, just look for chances to move more every day. Many people find that being active improves their mood so they make healthier food choices. You could try:
- taking the stairs instead of the lift
- a brisk walk instead of a slow walk
- doing two-minute bursts of jumping jacks several times a day
- yoga or pilates if you cant get out
- our exercises to do if youre stuck at home.
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Causes Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol causes are well known and well documented. These are things such as:
Diets that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans-fats can lead to high cholesterol.
2. Being Overweight
Being overweight can help to increase triglycerides which increases cholesterol. And being overweight can decrease HDL “good cholesterol.”
3. Not Enough Daily Physical Activity
Insufficient exercise is known to lower HDL cholesterol, which we do not want. We need this to stay high.
Cigarettes are another thing that reduces HDL cholesterol.
5. Family History of High Cholesterol
If you have a family history of high cholesterol, all other things being equal, you will have a higher risk of suffering the same.
Some medicines are known to lower HDL cholesterol and increase triglycerides, thus increasing overall cholesterol levels. Typical of these are corticosteroids, beta-blockers, diuretics, and estrogen.
Certain diseases such as kidney disease, kidney problems and hypothyroidism can increase the risk of high cholesterol.
After age 20 and as you grow older your cholesterol levels rise naturally.
Rising cholesterol levels in men usually level off after age 50. In women, it rises much more slowly until the menopause from which it rises to around male levels.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol does not have any noticeable symptoms so that very many people are living their lives oblivious to the fact that they have too-high cholesterol and at risk of heart disease and stroke.
This is why it is often referred to as the “silent killer.”
Egg yolks have the highest cholesterol of any food.
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Can My Diet Help My Cholesterol
Eating certain foods can help improve your cholesterol and overall heart health.
The best place to start is to eat a wide variety of plant foods. These include:
Eating plant foods will help you get a range of nutrients, heart-healthy fats and fibre. These all promote optimal heart health.
What To Do When High Cholesterol Runs In Your Family
Because high cholesterol doesnt have any symptoms, its not something thats commonly on peoples radar. Even if it is, people often dont take it seriously until they have a heart attack or stroke. And while we tend to think of those events as happening to an older population, people under the age of 55 can also be affected, especially if they were born with high cholesterol.
This condition is called familial hypercholesterolemia . FH is an inherited disorder that makes it harder for your body to remove low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from your blood. The result? From childhood, cholesterol builds up along the walls of your arteries and veins, narrowing the passageways and drastically increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke at a very early age.
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