Hdl Not As Awesome As We Thought
A large-scale epidemiological study published last month examined HDL cholesterol levels in more than 1.7 million military veterans. The researchers found, to their surprise, that both low levels and high levels of HDL were associated with premature mortality.
While this may have seemed strange and counterintuitive, several types of research over the past few years have raised questions about the actual nature of the relationship between high HDL and cardiovascular disease.
Genetic research has shown that individuals who are predisposed to have higher levels of LDL across the lifespan are at greater risk of having a heart attack, while those carrying genes related to lower levels seem protected. All that lines up with previous beliefs. However, the genetic relationship between different levels of HDL and heart disease risk is not nearly as strong. For instance, a 2012 study published in the Lancet found that people who carry gene variants that were exclusively associated with higher HDL levels did not have a lowered risk of heart attack.
Research modifying HDL amount also cast doubt on its presumed role. In a recent experiment, researchers induced advanced atherosclerosis in a group of mice. Then, the rodents had various genes inserted in order to modulate their blood lipids in different directions.
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.
Know Your Numbers And What To Do About Them
When it comes to cholesterol, it’s important to know your numbers. Hyperlipidemia means your blood has too many lipids , such as cholesterol and triglycerides. One type of hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, means you have too much non-HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in your blood. This condition increases fatty deposits in arteries and the risk of blockages.
Another way your cholesterol numbers can be out of balance is when your HDL cholesterol level is too low. With less HDL to remove cholesterol from your arteries, your risk of atherosclerotic plaque and blockages increases.
If youre diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, your overall health and other risks such as smoking or high blood pressure will help guide treatment. These factors can combine with high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol levels to affect your cardiovascular health. Your doctor may use the ASCVD Risk Calculator to assess your risk of a coronary event in the next 10 years.
The good news is, high cholesterol can be lowered, reducing risk of heart disease and stroke. If youre 20 years or older, have your cholesterol tested and work with your doctor to adjust your cholesterol levels as needed.
Often, changing behaviors can help bring your numbers into line. If lifestyle changes alone dont improve your cholesterol levels, medication may be prescribed. Lifestyle changes include:
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Eat More Plant Sources Of Protein
Excellent plant proteins include beans all beans, like lentils, red beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lower cholesterol.
Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
Starches Grains And Legumes
Make half of your grains whole grains. The amount you need each day depends on your age, gender and calorie needs.
- Choose low-fat baked goods , brown rice, whole-grain pasta, corn, baked potatoes, dried peas and beans, whole-grain breads and cereals.
- Limit pies, cakes, pastries, muffins, doughnuts, croissants, quick breads, cookies, crackers, granola, chips, fried foods.
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Who Should Take Them
Statins are often recommended to help prevent a first heart attack or stroke .
They are also used to reduce the risk of having a repeat heart attack or stroke in someone who has already had one .
- Know you have heart disease or have a history of stroke, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease or chest pain, also called angina
- Have high cholesterol or know you have Familial Hypercholesterolemia
- Are between 40 and 75 years of age and also have diabetes
- Are between 40 and 75 years of age and your clinician estimates how likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke or die from one in the next 10 years , and your risk is high enough to benefit from being on one
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What Is Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber is generally referred to as “roughage.” Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, adds bulk and softness to stools, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources on insoluble fiber include:
- Wheat bran and whole wheat or grain bread/bread products, pasta, cereal and crackers.
Why Are We Even Trying To Lower Our Cholesterol So Quickly
The crux of this entire article rests on this answer.
- Maybe you wish to show your health or life insurance company a certificate of health. It certainly involves a blood test.
- Is it ethical? That is not for us to decide. However, lowering your cholesterol in a week or less can actually end up inspiring you to pursue fitness and healthy eating afterwards.
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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
- a medium sized vegetable such as a turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, leek, tomato or carrot
- a medium sized fruit for example, an apple, orange or banana
- 2 small fruits such as plums or satsumas
- a handful of berries or grapes and other small fruits like strawberries and prunes
- a good-sized slice of a larger fruit such as a melon, mango or pineapple
- a tablespoon of dried fruit
- a 150ml glass of fruit juice
- a bowl of salad
Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, tinned, frozen or dried. They all count. If you choose tinned, choose options in juice or water, without added sugar or salt.
Potatoes, yams, cassava and plantains are exceptions. They dont count because they count as a starchy food, like rice or pasta.
Unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies count too, but only one portion. More than one doesnt count because the loose sugar and acid in them can damage your teeth.
What Is Cholesterol
Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or even block them. This puts you at risk for coronary artery disease and other heart diseases.
Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. One type, LDL, is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. Another type, HDL, is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Then your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.
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How Do Statins Work
Statins lower cholesterol in the blood by reducing the livers ability to make cholesterol. This allows the liver to accept more cholesterol from the blood, which in turn drives down cholesterol levels. They can drive down low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels the bad cholesterol by more than 50%.
Statins also help prevent heart attacks and strokes by keeping plaques from breaking apart and forming clots that can move to the heart or brain. In addition, they can lower triglycerides and boost high-density lipoprotein cholesterol known as the good cholesterol.
Statins work best when combined with a heart-healthy eating plan, regular exercise and other healthy habits.
Facts about Statins
- Are among the most well-studied and widely prescribed medications.
- Work by blocking an enzyme the liver uses to make cholesterol.
Add Coconut Oil To The Diet
Studies have shown that coconut oil may reduce appetite, increase metabolic rate, and help protect brain health, among other benefits.
Some people may be concerned about coconut oils effects on heart health due to its high saturated fat content. However, it appears that coconut oil is actually quite heart-healthy.
Some studies have shown that coconut oil tends to raise HDL cholesterol more than many other types of fat.
In addition, some studies have shown that coconut oil may improve the ratio of low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. Improving this ratio reduces heart disease risk .
One study examined the health effects of coconut oil consumption in 40 females with excess abdominal fat. The researchers found that those who took coconut oil daily had increased HDL cholesterol and a lower LDL-to-HDL ratio.
In contrast, the group who took soybean oil daily had a decrease in HDL cholesterol and an increase in the LDL-to-HDL ratio .
However, more recent reviews suggest that the research into coconut oil and cholesterol is of poor quality, is not conclusive, and often reports that coconut oil can raise the levels of LDL cholesterol. Therefore, more research is needed .
Most studies have found that these health benefits occur at a dosage of about 2 tbsp of coconut oil per day. It is best to incorporate this into cooking rather than eating spoonfuls of coconut oil on their own.
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A Guide To Healthy Eating: Strategies Tips And Recipes To Help You Make Better Food Choices
Eat real food. Thats the essence of todays nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvards Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices describes how to eat for optimum health.
How Is Cholesterol Measured
Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms. The best way to find out if your cholesterol is high is to have a blood test .
Visit your GP to determine whether you need to lower your cholesterol level and what action to take.
GPs can also do a heart health check, that calculates your heart disease and stroke risk.
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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.
If Lifestyle Changes Arent Enough
Take medications, if you need to, to lower your cholesterol into healthy ranges. Drugs like statins can be very effective, says Dr. Danine Fruge, MD, ABFP – Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, but do continue in your efforts to eat well and exercise because a healthy lifestyle can give you far, far more than drugs alone.
With a healthy living program like Pritikin, youre not only reducing cholesterol quickly, youre also creating changes throughout your body that can profoundly improve your overall well-being. Youre reducing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Other heart disease risk factors like triglyceride fats are also dropping dramatically. Youre also reducing inflammatory factors that sicken arteries. Youre shedding excess weight. And, quite simply, youre feeling better, much better. Many of our guests at Pritikin tell us, I had no idea I could feel this good again.
Can any pill or combination of pills do all of the above? I highly doubt it. But a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin can.
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Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
Things To Do To Reduce Cholesterol Before The Blood Test
There are a handful of natural everyday modifications that you can implement into your daily routine to drop your cholesterol levels.
From full-fat dairy and sugary beverages to processed madness, you simply must avoid this range of food-types if you want to take cholesterol-lowering seriously.
- You can still consume meat. As long as you pair your meals with fresh fruits, whole grains, and veggies.
- Plants rich in fibre are excellent choices, particularly soluble fibre.
- Recommendations: berries, barley, beans , oats, yams.
In close connection to the previous point, consuming plant-based protein is a step in the best direction.
- Beans, beans, and more beans.
- Recommendations: Pinto, soy, lentils, red.
- Unlike animal protein, which raises blood pressure, beans are renowned for bringing it down.
- They also reduce blood sugar and insulin levels that have led scientists to believe beans play a significant role in cancer prevention and treatment.
If youve heard the name omega-3 fatty acids, then you can be sure the Diet-Universe has spoken to you.
- This is not just good fat, but great fat, owing in large part to how well it fights heart disease.
- Food sources: sardines, herring, salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut.
Below are some bad fats you absolutely need to avoid if you have any plans of getting your cholesterol under control.
You knew this point was going to land at your door sooner or later.
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What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol in the blood doesn’t move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins .
Low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein are the lipoproteines that most of us have heard about.
Low-density lipoproteins, or “bad cholesterol,” can build up on the walls of the arteries. Cholesterol and other substances in the blood form plaque . Plaque buildup can make blood vessels become stiffer, narrower, or blocked. Plaque makes it easier for blood clots to form. A blood clot can block a narrowed artery and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Atherosclerosis , or hardening of the arteries, also leads to decreased blood flow to vital organs, including the brain, intestines, and kidneys.
High-density lipoproteins, or “good cholesterol,” carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. In the liver, cholesterol is broken down and removed from the body.
High levels of LDL and low levels of HDL increase a person’s risk of heart disease.
Should I Stop Drinking If I Have High Cholesterol
Cutting down on alcohol will help your liver to work better at removing bad cholesterol. It may also improve your heart health in other ways by helping you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Our top tips for drinking alcohol are to:
- drink less than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have a few days each week where you dont drink at all
- avoid binge drinking by drinking half what you usually would
- order a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Read more of our advice on alcohol.By making some of these small changes you should see your cholesterol levels go down.
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Natural Ways To Increase Hdl Cholesterol
Your genes do play a role in determining how much HDL your body makes and the proportion of different subtypes. Your genes are obviously already decided for you and out of your control, but your lifestyle choices are in your control. Here are some of the best, and even some easy, ways that you can get those HDL cholesterol numbers up:
1. Dont Smoke
As is always the case, smoking only makes health problems worse, and that includes HDL levels. Studies show that cigarette smoking adversely affects HDL by lowering its level, which further increases your risk for developing coronary heart disease. So if you smoke, youre already increasing your risk for heart problems.
2. Exercise More
To maintain a healthy body, you should exercise on a daily basis. If you want another specific reason to start exercising or increase your frequency of exercise, its your HDL levels. Increased physical activity directly helps raise your HDL cholesterol just another one of the many benefits of exercise. Vigorous exercise is the best choice for boosting HDL, but any additional exercise is better than none.
3. Decrease Body Weight
If youre currently overweight, by losing even a few pounds can improve your HDL cholesterol. For every six pounds of weight you lose, your HDL can increase by 1 milligram per deciliter. Thats means you want to lose weight, and if youre extremely overweight, getting your HDL cholesterol levels in order is another reason to treat obesity.
4. Eat Healthier Fats