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How To Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs

How To Lower Cholesterol Without Statins

How to Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs

When I qualified as a doctor, cholesterol was way down my list of priorities – and I’m not sure I even knew there was more than one kind. These days, when August rolls around and my keen new trainee arrives, I know it’s going to be one of the first subjects they ask me to teach them about. Because with about seven million Britons on statins – up from about 58,000 in 1992 – every patient has heard of cholesterol.

Reviewed byDr Hayley Willacy
23-Jun-18·4 mins read

If you’ve had a heart attack, stroke or type 2 diabetes you’ll almost certainly be advised to take statins. The evidence for benefit in this sort of patient is overwhelming – every 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol cuts the risk of dying from heart attack by 19%, the risk of heart attack or dying from heart attack by 23%, the risk of stroke by 17% and the risk of dying by 12%. In a study of nearly 3,000 people with type 2 diabetes who hadn’t had a heart attack, a daily statin cut the risk of major cardiovascular events by 37%.

Until 2014, the UK recommendation was that anyone with a 10-year risk over 20% should be offered a statin – it has now changed to 10%. But many people on the borderline of being ‘high risk’ could come out of this category with lifestyle changes.

The Ornish Diet For Cholesterol

Eating healthier is one of the most effective ways to reduce cholesterol scores. But what exactly does eating healthy mean? According to Dr. Dean Ornish, whose strict eponymous famous diet was studied in the Lifestyle Heart Trial), it means eating the following:

  • Fruits
  • No oils
  • No animal products

Unlike popular high-fat diets such as the ketogenic diet, the Ornish diet is low fat. Less than 10% of total calories come from fat. No more than 20% are from protein. The remaining calories come from carbohydrates.;

High-carbohydrate diets are to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemic. However, the carbohydrates in the Ornish diet are nutrient-dense. This means they contain relatively few calories and lots of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.;

How To Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are the top revenue-generating type of prescription medication. Approximately 20 million people take cholesterol medication on a regular basis. Statin drugs are designed to remove cholesterol out of plaque, thereby lowering low-density lipoprotein . High LDL levels can cause heart disease, heart attack or stroke.;

Statins generate billions of dollars every year for drug makers. Lipitor is regarded as the best-selling drug of all time. The drug generates approximately $3 billion a year for Pfizer. The drug single-handedly has earned over $160 billion in sales since its approval in 1996.;

Also Check: How Does Fiber Lower Cholesterol

How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed

Your doctor / physician will diagnose high cholesterol by means of a blood test.

Because it is easy and cheap to do, the initial test only measures your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. These two measures give a general overview of your risk. If your results show that the two measurements are within recommended target levels, then no other tests are usually required.

However, if one of those measurements is outside the norm , you may be asked to take a more detailed blood test. This second test measures your total, HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, plus triglycerides, and provides a more accurate risk assessment.

Note: Triglycerides are other types of fats made in the body and which also have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. So these are measured as well.

Some factors affecting triglyceride levels are:

  • being obese / overweight
  • diet high in carbohydrates

Foods To Avoid High Cholesterol

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Cholesterol when buildup in the arteries blocks the flow of the blood and leads to coronary heart diseases. You must avoid foods that contain these three types of fat, Saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans-fat. Saturated fat mainly consists of products like meat and dairy products.

These products mainly promote producing more bad cholesterol in your liver. Unsaturated fats consist of certain fish, plants, nuts, and seeds. They influence the bad cholesterol to break down. Now the liver absorbs this cholesterol. Solidifies vegetable oils are some of the food products that come under trans fats. The consistency of trans fats in them is very high.;

Some of the foods to avoid with high cholesterol are:

  • Fatty beef, lamb, pork.
  • Lard and shortening.
  • Dairy products, made from whole or reduced-fat milk.

Also, multiple foods contain trans-fat in them. Some of these include potato chips and crackers, packaged frosting, commercially fried foods, bakery goods that contain shortening, buttered popcorn, and many more. Also packed biscuits, cookies and cakes can sometimes have a high amount of cholesterol in them. Hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oil also increases the cholesterol level. Always check the products ingredients before buying them.;

Also Check: Are Walnuts Good For High Cholesterol

Medicines To Lower Cholesterol

For some people, making lifestyle changes alone does not their lower cholesterol enough. They may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available. They work in different ways and can have different side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which medicine is right for you.

Even if you take medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still need to continue with lifestyle changes.

Eat Lots Of Soluble Fiber

Upping your daily intake of soluble fiber can decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Taking psyllium supplements and eating oatmeal for breakfast are easy ways to increase the amount of soluble fiber you consume every day. You can also load up on fruits and veggies to get that fiber intake even higher.

Read Also: Are Baked Potatoes High In Cholesterol

What’s The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol:;good cholesterol or HDL and bad cholesterol or LDL .

HDL is the good kind of cholesterol because it moves from your arteries to your liver, which then expels it from your body. While LDL is the bad kind of cholesterol because it goes to your arteries, where it may collect in the artery walls and create a clog.

However, there is a bit of good news in all of this. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods in order to reduce bad cholesterol. In fact, with some diet modifications and regular light exercise, a good supplement can help manage your cholesterol.;

Am I At Risk For Heart Disease

How To Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally Without Drugs

If your cholesterol numbers are in the normal range, you should keep eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing other healthy habits to make sure your numbers stay low. Keeping your cholesterol in a healthy range is one of many things you can do to keep your risk for heart disease low.

If your numbers are borderline high or high, your risk for heart disease is increased. When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up in your blood vessels as plaque. Over time,;plaque can make your blood vessels hard, narrow, or become completely blocked, which can lead to a;heart attack or stroke.

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Cut Back On Added Sugar

A sugary diet can cause your liver to make more LDL cholesterol while lowering your HDL levels. Excess sugar can also raise your triglycerides and inhibit an enzyme that breaks them down. To prevent this, replace sugary fare with naturally-sweet alternatives. Instead of a bowl of candy, for example, have unsweetened applesauce or a baked pear. When you do indulge in high-sugar treats, stick to modest portions.

Lifestyle Changes To Lower Cholesterol

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can help you lower or control your cholesterol include

  • Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. It recommends that you eat and drink only enough calories to stay at a healthy weight and avoid weight gain. It encourages you to choose a variety of nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
  • Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol. This is especially important for people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that includes high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and being overweight with a large waist measurement .
  • Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
  • Managing stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
  • Quitting smoking.Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, having more HDL can help to lower your LDL cholesterol.

Read Also: Does Sugar Cause High Cholesterol

When Supplements Make Sense

Not everyone with an elevated cholesterol level needs to take a statin. There are ways to achieve moderate lowering of cholesterol levels without using such drugs.

If you are basically healthy, and a formal assessment of your cardiovascular risk places you in a low-risk groupor at least shows that your risk is not high enough to warrant statin therapythen non-prescription cholesterol lowering makes good sense.

Lets review some of the commonly used non-prescription means of lowering cholesterol.

What Causes High Cholesterol

How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

The most common cause of high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle, which can include one or a combination of these factors:

  • Unhealthy eating habits which can raise your LDL cholesterol, particularly large amounts of saturated fat found in red meat, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods, according to MedlinePlus. Another type of unhealthy fat is trans fat, found in fried and processed foods, which can also raise your LDL cholesterol.
  • Lack of physical activity. Lots of sitting and little exercise lowers your HDL cholesterol.
  • Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them more prone to accumulate fatty deposits. It also lowers your HDL cholesterol, especially in women. It also raises your LDL cholesterol.
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high cholesterol.
  • Diabetes.;High blood sugar contributes to higher levels of a dangerous cholesterol known as very-low-density lipoprotein and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries.
  • Some chronic medical conditions
  • Certain medicines

Read Also: Are Pistachios Good For Cholesterol

About Heart And Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.

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Vitamins To Help Lower Cholesterol

There are certain vitamins that help to prevent and alleviate high cholesterol…

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help to lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme that helps to produce cholesterol in your body. In addition, research tells us that regular vitamin C helps to heal arteries damaged by high cholesterol.

In essence, when vitamin C values are low your body produces more cholesterol. When your vitamin C levels are high, less cholesterol is produced.

You can increase your vitamin C through diet, in such foods as chili peppers, bell peppers, fresh herbs , dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, red cabbage, and so on.

But you can also take vitamin C in supplemental form. However, if you are considering this, it’s best to consult your doctor / physician about the correct dosage for you.

Vitamin E

The vitamin E family consists of 2 types — tocopherols and tocotrienols — each of which is further broken down into 4 forms — alpha, beta, gamma and delta.

Delta tocotrienol is noted for having the strongest cholesterol-lowering properties.

A study by the Kenneth Jones Heart Foundation found that the delta tocotrienol form of vitamin E lowered LDL cholesterol by an average 25%. It also showed that this form of vitamin E could inhibit the build-up of plaque in the arteries.

Another study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2005, showed that eating almonds can increase vitamin E levels in the body and lower cholesterol levels.

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Risks And Side Effects

Although most people benefit from statins, these drugs can have side effects. The most serious side effects occur in people who are taking other medications or who have an underlying health condition. Many side effects go away as your body adapts to the medication.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common side effect of statins is muscle and joint aches and pains. The medication can also cause nausea and vomiting.

More serious side effects include liver and kidney damage, an increase in blood sugar, and neurological side effects. In some people, statins can cause a breakdown in muscle cells and lead to permanent muscle damage.

Risks You Cant Change

how to lower your cholesterol without drugs

No matter how active and healthy you are, there is one risk factor for high cholesterol that you just cant change genetics.

Genetics really drives a lot of the cholesterol abnormalities, said Ochman. It is the number one risk factor that exists for cardiovascular disease, and when we look at risk calculators for many different diseases genetics is factored into almost all of them.

For those with inherited high cholesterol, taking medication may happen eventually but Ochman reports there is still value in making healthy choices.;

Exercise and diet can lower your overall medication burden, control your weight, strengthen your muscles, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and benefit your cardiovascular system, said Ochman. Even if you know you might one day wind up taking a medication, its important to make good lifestyle choices and prolong that day as long as possible.

How much do you know about your cholesterol? Take our short quiz.

For more details about cholesteroland its affect on your health, visit our health library.

  • Cholesterol can build up in arteries and narrow them. Over time this limited blood flow can cause serious health problems including: heart attack, stroke, and coronary or peripheral artery disease.
  • Think of plaque build-up as a little like developing a clog in your pipes it’s a situation to avoid!

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Factors That Can Increase Your Risk Of High Cholesterol

A number of things can raise your risk of developing high cholesterol, some of which you can control and some you cant. These include:

  • Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older.
  • High blood cholesterol can run in families.
  • Being overweight or obesea body mass index of 30 or greaterputs you at risk of high cholesterol.
  • Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than Caucasians.

Side Effects Of Cholesterol Medication

Although cholesterol medication has a number of benefits, these are counterbalanced by the myriad side effects associated with the medications. Statins, in particular, cause a wide number of side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and headaches. Niacin, meanwhile, can cause patients to suffer flushing reactions, headaches and gastrointestinal upset. Finally, PCSK9 has been cited as being responsible for limb pain, fatigue and even memory loss.

Recommended Reading: How Much Cholesterol In Milk Chocolate

Diet To Lower Cholesterol And Lose Weight

There are various kinds of Foods To Reduce Cholesterol levels in the human body. But, often it is hard to know what to eat and when to eat to reduce the cholesterol level and also lose weight. For this, there is a certain diet which will be helpful for you.;

  • Mediterranean diet
  • DASH diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet
  • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes

Following any one of these diets will help you in losing cholesterol very quickly. These diets even help to lose weight fast and also keep your body healthy and fit.;

Cholesterol is very much harmful to your body. It harms us in many ways and causes deadly diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, and blocks the arteries. But there are many treatments for reducing cholesterol in your body. Even different types of diets and Foods To Reduce Cholesterol levels very quickly and easily. If you are going through any symptoms of high cholesterol level, consult a doctor. Taking care of your body will help you to stay fit and healthy.;

You Can Begin To Reduce Your Bad Ldl Cholesterol Naturally By Making A Few Simple Changes In Your Diet

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If your cholesterol is creeping upward, your doctor has probably told you that diet and exercisethe traditional cornerstones of heart healthcould help to bring it down. And if you’d prefer to make just one change at a time to lower your cholesterol naturally, you might want to begin with your diet. A major analysis of several controlled trials involving hundreds of men and women found that dietary changes reduced LDL and total cholesterol while exercise alone had no effect on either.

The people in the studies followed a variety of diets, from Mediterranean to low-fat to low-calorie. However, the most effective diets substituted foods with the power to lower cholesterol for those that boost cholesterol. According to Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, eating with your LDL in mind doesn’t have to be an exercise in self-deprivation. While you may have to say goodbye to a few snacks and fast foods, you can replace them with others that are equally satisfying. “You don’t have to follow an all-or-nothing approach. It’s really a matter of common sense,” she says. She suggests a few ways to start getting your cholesterol under control and keep it normal.

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