Putting Together A Low Cholesterol Diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber soy protein and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental 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.
Ldl Cholesterol: How Low Can You Go
- By Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD, Contributor
Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is a clearly established risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease . Lowering LDL with medications and/or lifestyle changes has been shown to lower CVD risk. Just how far to lower LDL, however, has remained controversial.
Current guidelines developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and several other professional organizations recommend lowering elevated LDL levels to 70 milligrams per deciliter in people with high-risk CVD. However, recent studies have suggested that CVD risk may continue to drop as LDL is lowered beyond these targets, leading some cardiologists to believe that our current guidelines are not aggressive enough. Others are concerned that lowering LDL too much may lead to harm.
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You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.
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Eat A Variety Of Healthy Proteins
The best choices of protein are fish and seafood, legumes , nuts and seeds. You can eat smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry but limit red meat to 1-3 times a week.
Flavour foods with herbs and spices rather than salt, and avoid processed foods as these contain a lot of salt too. Salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
Focus On Monounsaturated Fats
As opposed to saturated fats, unsaturated fats have at least one double chemical bond that changes the way they are used in the body. Monounsaturated fats have only one double bond.
Although some recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, a study of 10 men found a 6-week, low-fat diet reduced levels of harmful LDL, but also reduced beneficial HDL .
In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats reduced harmful LDL, but also protected higher levels of healthy HDL.
A study of 24 adults with high blood cholesterol came to the same conclusion, where eating a diet high in monounsaturated fat increased beneficial HDL by 12%, compared to a diet low in saturated fat .
Monounsaturated fats may also reduce the oxidation of lipoproteins, which contributes to clogged arteries. A study of 26 people found that replacing polyunsaturated fats with monounsaturated fats in the diet reduced the oxidation of fats and cholesterol (
Monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, canola oil, tree nuts and avocados reduce the bad LDL, increase the good HDL and reduce the oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.
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Taking Time To Stay Active
If a person is not at a moderate weight or has obesity, they may have an increased risk of high LDL cholesterol. If a person is not very active and has a high body mass index , they may need to increase their activity levels.
Adults should aim to complete 150 minutes of physical activity a week. A weekly routine may include 30 minutes of exercise over 5 days. A person could try cardio, for example, such as brisk walking or running. Muscle-strengthening activities such as hill walking or resistance weight training may also help with maintaining moderate weight levels.
Use Alcohol In Moderation
When used in moderation, the ethanol in alcoholic drinks increases HDL and reduces the risk of heart disease.
A study of 18 adult women found that drinking 24 grams of alcohol from white wine daily improved HDL by 5%, compared to drinking equal amounts of white grape juice .
Alcohol also improves reverse cholesterol transport, meaning cholesterol is removed from blood and vessel walls and taken back to the liver. This reduces the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease .
While moderate alcohol intake reduces heart disease risk, too much alcohol harms the liver and increases the risk of dependence. The recommended limit is two drinks daily for men and one for women .
12 drinks per day may improve HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of clogged arteries. However, heavier alcohol use increases heart disease risk and harms the liver.
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What Are Triglycerides And Vldl
Triglyceride is a fatty substance that is composed of three fatty acids. Like cholesterol, triglyceride in the blood comes either from the diet or the liver. In addition, like cholesterol, triglyceride cannot dissolve and circulate in the blood without combining with a lipoprotein.
The liver removes triglyceride from the blood and it synthesizes and packages triglyceride into VLDL particles and releases them back into the blood circulation.
The Link Between Dietary And Blood Cholesterol
The liver produces as much cholesterol as the body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in very low-density lipoproteins .
As VLDL delivers fat to cells throughout the body, it changes into the more dense LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, which carries cholesterol wherever it is needed.
The liver also releases high-density lipoprotein , which carries unused cholesterol back to the liver. This process is called reverse cholesterol transport, and 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 low in cholesterol, dietary cholesterol actually only has 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.
For example, a study randomly assigned 45 adults to eat more cholesterol in the form of two eggs daily. In the end, those eating more cholesterol did not have higher total cholesterol levels or changes in lipoproteins, compared to those eating less cholesterol .
While dietary cholesterol has little influence on cholesterol levels, other foods in your diet can worsen them, as can family history, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.
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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.
What Medications Lower Cholesterol Lipids And Triglycerides
Lipid-altering medications are used to lower blood levels of undesirable lipids such as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and increase blood levels of desirable lipids such as HDL cholesterol. Several classes of medications are available in the United States, including HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors , nicotinic acid, fibric acid derivatives, and medications that decrease intestinal cholesterol absorption . Some of these medications are primarily useful in lowering LDL cholesterol, others in lowering triglycerides, and some in elevating HDL cholesterol. Medications also can be combined to more aggressively lower LDL, as well as lower LDL and increase HDL at the same time.
Newer medications, alirocumab and evolocumab have been approved to help lower LDL levels in certain pateints where diet and other statin medications have not worked adequately.
Note: Dosing guidelines change. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a guideline concerning the potential dangers of taking the 80 mg dose of simvastatin .
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Plant Sterols Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods including sunflower and canola seeds, vegetable oils and in nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Some margarine and milks have concentrated plant sterols added to them. Margarines enriched with plant sterolslower LDL cholesterol in most people if the correct amount is eaten .
What Is A Normal Range For Non
The higher your non-HDL cholesterol, the higher your risk of heart disease.
A study published in 2018 involved more than 36,000 people with a low 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease. A long-term follow-up found LDL and non-HDL readings of more than 160 mg/dL were each linked with a 50 to 80 percent increased relative risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
For other cholesterol readings, the following guidelines apply if you dont have heart or blood vessel disease.
Your LDL cholesterol reading is:
- optimal if less than 100 mg/dL
- above optimal/borderline high if between 100 and 129 mg/dL
- mildly high if 130 to 159 mg/dL
- high at 160 to 189 mg/dL
- very high at 190 mg/dL or above
Your HDL cholesterol reading is:
- optimal if its 60 mg/dL or above
- low if its 40 mg/dL or lower
Your triglyceride reading is:
- optimal if less than 100 mg/dL
- borderline high at 100 to 149 mg/dL
- high if 150 to 499 mg/dL
- very high if higher than 500 mg/dL
Your doctor may have different goals for you if youre at high risk of heart disease or have already had heart disease.
- have kidney disease
Studies are beginning to highlight the importance of non-HDL in assessing cardiovascular risk.
For example, in a 2016 study, researchers looked at data from nine clinical trials involving people with coronary disease. They found that achieved non-HDL cholesterol was more strongly associated with disease progression than LDL.
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Lifestyle Tips To Cut Cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Suggestions include:
- Cease alcohol consumption or reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day. Avoid binge drinking. This may help lower your triglyceride levels.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into artery cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly . Exercise increases HDL levels while reducing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to raised blood triglyceride and LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis , heart attacks and strokes.
Think Fish For Heart Health
Eating fish is especially heart healthy because many fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat. It is the omega-3 fatty acids that help lower blood levels of triglycerides. Stick to fatty fish, which has more omega-3. Keep in mind that deep oil frying of any food diminishes its health benefits.
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Understand The Difference Between Ldl
Most cholesterol blood tests measure LDL-C, the total amount of cholesterol carried in our LDL particles. However, LDL-P, or the total number of LDL particles in our blood, is an even better marker of cardiovascular risk.3 Some studies on low-carb diets have shown an increase in LDL-C with either no change or a decrease in LDL-P .4
How does this happen? Studies show that carbohydrate restriction can change small LDL particles into larger ones.5Therefore, there may be more overall cholesterol, but fewer LDL particles. In theory, this may not indicate a substantially increased cardiovascular risk and may not require corrective action.6
Cholesterol Is Not A Dirty Word
We need to get it from healthy, real foods for many reasons. The following is only a partial list of the its functions:
- An important part ofevery cell membrane in your body. It makes membranes less flimsy, like mortar between bricks. By strengthening the membrane, it becomes less leaky, and desirable molecules, like proteins, can filter in and out of cells.
- Optimizes brain function and memory formation 25% of total body reserves are found in your brain. One study found that in the elderly, better memory function was found in those with the highest cholesterol levels
- Needed to absorb certain vitamins and is a key ingredient in the production of Vitamin D.
- Makes bile acids in the liver needed to digest healthy fats.
- Makes many of your hormones. Cortisol regulates blood sugar and reduces inflammation. Cholesterol is also a key ingredient needed to make all your sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone.
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What Are Hdl Cholesterol Vs Ldl Cholesterol What Do They Do
What is LDL cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol?
- LDL cholesterol is called “bad” cholesterol because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
- LDL lipoprotein deposits cholesterol along the inside of artery walls, causing the formation of a hard, thick substance called cholesterol plaque. Over time, cholesterol plaque causes thickening of the artery walls and narrowing of the lumen of the arteries, a process called atherosclerosis, which decreases blood flow through the narrowed plaque-filled vessel.
- Narrowing of blood vessels in the heart may lead to angina or heart attack.
- Narrowing of blood vessels in the brain may cause a transient ischemic attack or stroke.
- Narrowing of the arteries throughout the body can lead to signs and symptoms of pain, including in the intestine and in the legs with walking .
What is HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol?
What does “total” cholesterol mean?
- Total cholesterol is the sum of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol, and IDL cholesterol.
What determines the level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the blood?
- Mandatory smoking cessation
The previous goal of maintaining “normal” cholesterol levels has been replaced by an approach that suggests more people may benefit from cholesterol-lowering statin medications, and not just those with high cholesterol levels. These four groups include patients: