Ways To Lower Your Cholesterol Without Medication
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your blood and is also found in certain foods. Ideally, your total cholesterol levels will fall under 200 milligrams per deciliter . Your LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels should fall under 100 mg/dL. And your HDL, or good cholesterol, should stay at 40 mg/dL or higher. If you have high cholesterol levels, changing your lifestyle can go a long way.
Dr. Javier Sosa and our team at Woodlands Primary Healthcare provide blood tests to help identify cholesterol-related risk factors. We can also make lifestyle recommendations that suit your specific needs.
Here are nine ways you can lower your cholesterol levels without medication:
What Happens If I Incorporated Dietary Changes And My Cholesterol Is Still Not Within Recommended Ranges
If youve made some dietary changes and you still havent seen results, try incorporating phytosterol into your diet. Phytosterol is similar to the bodys cholesterol and can block cholesterol from being absorbed into your body.
Phytosterol can lower your cholesterol by 10% and your LDL by 14%, she says. Aim to get about 2 grams of phytosterol a day. Some common food and dietary supplements include high sterol or stanol esters be sure to read the labels.
Can Fish Oil Lower Cholesterol Levels
Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in fish oil, are generally safe to use by itself or with a statin to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They dont necessarily lower your bad cholesterol. But they have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and increase HDL cholesterol .
In a major research study, researchers observed how eicosapentaenoic acid , a type of omega-3 fatty acid, affected heart attack risk in patients who were taking statins and had high triglyceride levels. Some of the patients were given EPA and others were given a placebo . Those patients who took EPA experienced up to 25% fewer cardiovascular events than similar patients who did not get EPA.
, a prescription medication whose active ingredient is derived from EPA, was approved by the FDA last December because of this type of research. Its used to help lower triglyceride levels and the risk for cardiovascular disease. Vascepa is sometimes prescribed on top of a statin, depending on how high your triglyceride levels are and your other risk factors .
Unfortunately, over-the-counter products with omega-3 fatty acids are not well-regulated by the FDA, but they may be cheaper than Vascepa. Talk to your pharmacist if you need help deciding. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and albacore are another good source of omega-3s.
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How Do I Decide The Best Next Step For Me
There are a number of things you might want to consider and talk with your health care team about as you think about whether to add a non-statin therapy.
- First, are you on the most potent and highest amount of such statin you can take already?
- How well have you managed to make lifestyle changes, including eating heart healthier and getting regular physical activity?
- What is your personal risk of ASCVD, and how much more would a non-statin lower that risk beyond what has been achieved on a statin alone?
- Possible drug-drug interactions, especially if you have other health issues.
- What you prefer for treatment once you know or understand your risk.
Acc/aha Guideline On The Management Of Blood Cholesterol
New guidelines were published in 2018 stating that non-statin therapy should be considered as secondary prevention treatment options for patients with a very high-risk of ASCVD events, for patients with statin intolerances, or for patients in whom a statin alone does not lower LDL-C sufficiently . The 2018 guidelines cite ezetimibe, bile acid sequestrants/resins, and PCSK9 inhibitors as the non-statin LDL-C lowering drugs of choice. And per the 2018 guidelines, fibric acid and niacin derivatives should be reserved for individuals with increased triglyceride levels. Ultimately, the 2018 guidelines determined that more data are required to demonstrate the full benefit provided by non-statin medications .
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You Can Begin To Reduce Your Bad Ldl Cholesterol Naturally By Making A Few Simple Changes In Your Diet
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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Lowering Cholesterol Without Statins Natural Cholesterol Supplements That Work
Cholesterol lowering medications have been hailed as the wonder drugs of the century. Patients with even mildly elevated cholesterol often are encouraged by their doctors to begin taking a statin drug.
But do these medications live up to the hype? And are there hidden side effects that patients should know about?
First, lets look at a few facts.
In America, cholesterol-lowering statins are the most prescribed class of drugs. In this country one out of every four adults is taking a statin medication. Most have been told that by doing so, they will prevent or slow the progress of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries, a major risk factor for chest pain or angina, heart attack and stroke.
At least one physician, who aptly goes by the name of John Reckless, has even gone as far as advocating for statin-fortified drinking water.
Although theres not much doubt that statins can lower cholesterol, the question is whether the sometimes serious side effects of these drugs are worth the risks.
Dr. David Newman of TheNNT.com doesnt believe they are.
Dr. Newman conducted a meta-analysis of statin studies and discovered that, while statins have a cholesterol-lowering effect in people with and without pre-existing heart disease, the effect is so small that it doesnt justify the negative side effects that statins cause.
|With Heart Disease|
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The Dangers Of Statin Drugs
Over 900 studies have been published demonstrating the harmful side effects of the use of status.
A recent study published in Atherosclerosis shows that there is a 52% absolute increase in risk of atherosclerosis in people who started taking statin drugs. At the time of the study, none of the studys participants had any known cardiovascular disease.
In another study published in Diabetic Care, patients with type 2 diabetes and advanced atherosclerosis who used statins frequently had significantly higher amounts of arterial plaque when compared to patients who did not use statins as often. In a sub-group of participants not taking statins, the rate at which arterial plaque developed increased when they began taking statins.
Other studies have also documented serious side effects, including the following:
- Liver and pancreas failure due to increased enzymes caused by statin intake
- Muscle damage that can lead to loss of muscle cells, kidney failure and death
- Increased blood sugar and higher risk of type-2 diabetes
- Memory loss, depression, forgetfulness and other neurological side effects that have been seen to stop once the use of statins is also stopped
- Sexual dysfunction
Cut Out Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates
One of the biggest misconceptions about high cholesterol levels is that they are caused by eating fat. This pervasive logic lead to the demonization of the egg. Now we now know the egg is one of the few perfect proteins that exist in nature.
Recent studies have also revealed that high cholesterol levels, as well high triglycerides, are often the result of eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.
If youve switched to a low-fat diet in an effort to achieve normal cholesterol levels, youve missed the target. Low fat diets often dish up increased servings of pastas and breads.
The key to reducing high triglyceride levels is to limit your sugar intake, eat plenty of vegetables , legumes and healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet is a good model of one such diet.
Many people have had great success with the Paleo Diet as well. Contrary to popular belief, this way of eating is not about stuffing yourself with huge servings of meat.
The primary focus of the Paleo Diet is to eliminate grains and legumes, as many people have difficulty digesting these food sources. Use of vegetable oils, oils, soybean and canola oils are discouraged, as these oils are often derived from genetically modified crops, while conventional processing leaves them rancid.
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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.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Physical activity increases levels of HDL cholesterol the good cholesterol that removes LDL cholesterol from the blood. Vigorous aerobic exercise is best.
If you havent been exercising much lately, gradually build up to the recommended amount of physical activity:
- People aged 18-64 years should do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
- People aged 65 years and over should aim for a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days .
Moderate-intensity exercise is a level that increases your heart rate and breathing but allows you to keep talking. Vigorous intensity exercise makes your heart rate higher and makes you breathe more heavily.
Resistance training and muscle-toning exercises can increase HDL cholesterol. Aim to do this twice a week.
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Foods With Added Sterols And Stanols
Sterols and stanols are plant chemicals which are a similar size and shape to cholesterol. They are absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream and block some cholesterol from being absorbed, lowering the cholesterol in your blood.
We get a small amount of sterols from plant-based foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but its not enough to lower cholesterol. So, food companies have developed foods with plant sterols or stanols added to them, such as mini yogurt drinks, fat spreads, milk and yogurts.
These fortified foods lower your cholesterol gradually, over a few weeks, and how much depends on the amount you eat. Some experts believe they are the most effective single food for lowering cholesterol.
Who should eat foods with sterols and stanols added?
Sterols and stanols have been thoroughly researched, so they can be added to foods and are safe to eat.
They are suitable for:
- People with high cholesterol theres no real benefit if you dont have high cholesterol.
- Children with inherited high cholesterol such as familial hypercholesterolaemia with support from a doctor or dietitian.
- People taking statins sterols and stanols will help to lower your cholesterol further because they work in a different way to the statin.
They are not suitable for:
Aim for: one to three servings of fortified foods a day. This will give you 1.5 to 3g of stanols and sterols.
Three servings of: OR
- 1 glass of milk
One product a day:
How Do I Know If I Have High Cholesterol
Many Australians don’t know they have high cholesterol, because there are no symptoms. High cholesterol can only be detected through a blood test.
Some people have a condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia where a genetic problem leads to high cholesterol. About one in 500 Australians has this condition and many dont know they have it. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or of heart disease at a young age, ask your doctor about your risk.
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Lower Ldl Levels Are Better
In a JAMA editorial accompanying the study, Christopher P. Cannon, MD, of Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote that aggressive LDL lowering is the ideal lower is better.
The JAMA studys findings echo those of another large 4,162-patient study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It concluded that LDL cholesterol levels of 62 were even better than levels of 95 at preventing death, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular-related problems in people with heart disease.
Alternatives To Statins For Lowering Cholesterol
Your best treatment option for high cholesterol depends on many factors. Before your doctor recommends a prescription medication, they will look at several things, including your family medical history, your risk for heart disease, and your lifestyle.
Many doctors prefer to start with changes to diet and exercise. If those changes dont have enough effect, you might start taking medication to help the process along.
Statins are one commonly prescribed medication for controlling cholesterol, but these drugs might not be right for everyone. There are several treatment options for high cholesterol, including other medications and lifestyle changes.
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Dietary Factors That Tend To Reduce Ldl Cholesterol
Soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. It dissolves in water to form a gel that moves slowly through the intestines, grabbing up fat, dietary cholesterol, bile salts, and sugar to be excreted. Once excreted, these are no longer available to build more cholesterol.
Load up on foods high in soluble fiber like beans, such as hummus, lentil stew, dal, bean burritos, bean soup, bean burgers, bean dips. There are endless options to incorporate beans into your diet. Oats and barley are also high in soluble fiber. Try having steel-cut or overnight oatmeal for breakfast, use rolled oats to make pancakes, or make a delicious barley risotto. Incorporate soluble-fiber-rich vegetables like eggplant, okra, carrots, and potatoes into your diet to help lower cholesterol. This also includes dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens. Pectin is a soluble fiber that works by binding to fatty substances in the digestive tract, including cholesterol, and promotes their elimination. Pectin-rich fruits such as apples, grapes, citrus fruit, and strawberries can help lower LDL.
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.
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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.
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.
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Reduce Cholesterol Without Statins With Exercise
In addition to helping you reduce stress, exercise has a very positive impact on the physical fitness of individuals with dyslipidemia, and therefore it reduces cholesterol levels. The optimal mode, frequency, intensity and duration of exercise for improvement of cholesterol levels are, however, yet to be identified.
Nevertheless, studies on the subject confirm the beneficial effects of regular physical activity on cholesterol levels, as it aids in the prevention and management of elevated levels of cholesterol while reducing the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and coronary artery disease.
Overall, you should be as physically active as possible, but just 30 minutes a day will help reduce cholesterol levels.
Finally, keep in mind that if you want to reduce cholesterol without statins, then you must let go of bad habits and improve your overall lifestyle.