Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.
What Health Problems Can High Cholesterol Cause
If you have large deposits of plaque in your arteries, an area of plaque can rupture . This can cause a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow in a coronary artery.
Plaque also can build up in other arteries in your body, including the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your brain and limbs. This can lead to problems such as carotid artery disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.
Myth : If You Have Heart Disease You Should Eat As Little Fat As Possible
It’s true you should eat a diet low in saturated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, and trans fat. But other fats, notably the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils and other foods, are beneficial. In fact, eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, twice a week can lower the risk of heart disease.
What you can do: Include low-fat dairy products, fatty fishes, nuts, and olive oil in your diet. If you eat meat, make sure the cuts are lean, and remove the skin from your poultry.
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High Cholesterol In The United States
- In 20152016, more than 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and more than 18% had high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL.1
- Slightly more than half of the U.S. adults who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.2
- 93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.3
- 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.3
- High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people dont know that their cholesterol is too high. A simple blood test can check cholesterol levels.
- Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death.
Cholesterol And Heart Disease: The Role Of Diet
Your diet clearly plays a role in determining your cholesterol levels, but if you’re like most people, the most important factor isn’t how much cholesterol-rich food you eat. Rather, it’s what else you eat. Figuring this out has been a learning process.
Initially, the news that cholesterol in the bloodstream was linked to heart disease prompted an all-out war on cholesterol in food. From the 1960s on, people were advised to stay away from foods rich in cholesterol, like eggs, dairy foods, and some types of seafood. But today, the science suggests that, for most people, dietary cholesterol has only a modest effect on the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. In fact, the 20152020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans eliminated an earlier recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams per dayalthough they still suggest caution on overall intake.
Notably, the guidelines did not change the recommendation on saturated fat, which is found mainly in animal-based foods such as meat and dairyand is often found in high-cholesterol foods. Saturated fat in the diet clearly does raise LDL by a significant amount and should still be consumed in limited quantities. And although some research has cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that saturated fat is linked with heart disease, other research upholds the link.
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What Numbers Should I Look For
Some recommend that everyone over age 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years. The test that is performed is a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. That includes:
- Total cholesterol level
What Affects Cholesterol Levels?
A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels. They include:
What Can Raise My Risk Of High Cholesterol
A variety of things can raise your risk for high cholesterol:
- Age. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. Even though it is less common, younger people, including children and teens, can also have high cholesterol.
- Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
- Weight. Being overweight or having obesity raises your cholesterol level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
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A Crash Course In American History
On September 23, 1955, US president Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. It was a huge mystery at the time how could a three-pack a day smoking man get a heart attack? Of course we now know smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, but smoking was what the cool kids did back then so nobody wanted to attack it.
They ultimately came down to two contrasting opinions. American scientist Ancel Keys believed saturated fat was to blame, whereas UK scientist John Yudkin pinned sugar as the culprit. Ancel Keys was charismatic and combative. John Yudkin was undemonstrative and reserved. You guess what happened next.
Keys attacked every paper Yudkin put out, accumulating institutional power along the way. Keys went on to publish his Seven Countries Study, which argued countries where people ate more fat had higher rates of heart disease. But guess what? The countries he studied that had the highest rates of heart disease also were the countries with the highest intakes of sugar. Was it the fat or the sugar? You decide. Nevertheless, the United States bought Keyss hypothesis and saturated fats cause heart disease became cannon.
Funnily enough, Eisenhower himself cut saturated fats and cholesterol from his diet altogether. In 1969, he died of a heart attack. How ironic.
But why do modern day nutrition guidelines still recommend keeping saturated fats low in fear of heart disease?
How Is Cholesterol Moved Around The Body
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which cannot dissolve in blood , so it is carried around by proteins. These fat and protein complexes are called lipoproteins.
There are two main types:
LDL is the bad cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease LDL transports cholesterol to the cells. The bodys cells take up the LDL cholesterol via an LDL receptor . This controls the amount of cholesterol in the blood. The protein component of LDL is called apolipoprotein B .
HDL is the good cholesterol helps to protect against cardiovascular disease HDL transports cholesterol from the cells to the liver for removal. HDL can also act as an antioxidant. The major protein component of HDL is called apolipoprotein A1 .
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Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Overindulging isn’t just bad for your liver. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise your bad cholesterol and trigylcerides numbers. Both are associated with an increased risk of heart attack when elevated. If you imbibe, do it only in moderation: No more than two drinks a day for men, and no more than one drink a day for women.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight or obese, a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose weight. Aim to get your BMI below 25.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, your GP or practice nurse can help you come up with a weight loss plan and recommend services in your area.
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The History Of Cholesterol And Saturated Fat
In 1796, The First American Cookbook was published by Amelia Simmons. In it, she used lots of butter, lard, organ meats, and pork. It shows how people used to eat back in the day, lots of saturated fats, and animal products. Vegetable oils and processed foods were non-existent. Keep in mind that heart disease rates were at record lows.
It wasnt until 1910, where vegetable oils became mass-produced. People stopped using butter and started using margarine and canola oil. This is when heart disease rates started to rise . In 1955, President Eisenhower had a heart attack , and everyone was quick to blame cholesterol. But nobody was talking about his cholesterol levels. It was 165 mg/dl, well below 200 mg/dl, which is considered safe.
How did someone with low cholesterol suffer a heart attack?
Myth: All Cholesterol Is Bad For You
Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, makes up most of your bodys cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL , or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina or a heart attack.
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What Do The Studies Say
“For decades, the mainstream view has been that an elevated level of total cholesterol is a primary cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease . There are several contradictions to this view, however. No study of unselected people has found an association between TC and degree of atherosclerosis”.
“Moreover, in most of the Japanese epidemiological studies, high TC is not a risk factor for stroke, and further, there is an inverse association between TC and all-cause mortality, irrespective of age and sex”.
“It is well known that total cholesterol becomes less of a risk factor or not at all for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality with increasing age, but as little is known as to whether low-density lipoprotein cholesterol , one component of total cholesterol, is associated with mortality in the elderly…” the study published in the British Medical journal decided to study this further.
Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease Or Other Health Problems
The most common health issues that arise from having high cholesterol are high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, both of which are serious risk factors for heart disease. Because LDL cholesterol can contribute to dangerous plaque buildups in your veins and arteries, it can increase your risk of heart attacks or stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, heart disease itself was the leading cause of death in America in 2020.
But why do your cholesterol levels play such a significant role in causing a heart attack or stroke? To better understand the correlation between the two conditions, it helps to have a basic understanding of what leads to these life-threatening heart diseases.
Our hearts are completely dependent on having a healthy flow of blood because they need oxygen in order to function. Once our blood picks up oxygen from our lungs, it carries that oxygen throughout our bodies via veins and arteries until it returns to the heart. If that healthy bloodstream becomes blocked or slowed thanks to plaque narrowing our arteriesor even blocking them off completelythe heart is unable to continue functioning thanks to the lack of oxygenated blood, leading to what we call a heart attack.
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Is High Cholesterol Really A Problem
High cholesterol can be a problem for anyone, regardless of your body type and regardless of how healthy you might try to be. It can afflict anyone, which is why its so important to verify your cholesterol levels with your doctor at least once a year. When your doctor tells you that your cholesterol is high, they are likely referring to high LDL, since thats the number you want to keep below a certain threshold. High cholesterol can be a problem for a multitude of reasons, as it can both directly cause several life-threatening diseases and be indicative of other health issues that need to be addressed.
Typically, your doctor will test both your good and bad levels to give you your current readings, then provide the healthy range for your body type, height, age, etc. That way, if your good cholesterol is too low or your bad cholesterol is too high, you know how far away you are from being in a safer range. Your doctor will also discuss how you can improve your levels through diet, exercise, and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Medication is typically the last resort, but it can be highly effective for those who either suffer from high cholesterol due to genetics or have had little to no success with dietary changes and regular exercise routines. However, there are many foods that can help lower your LDL levels, some by eating and some by avoiding.
To lower LDL levels, choose MORE of these foods:
To lower LDL levels, choose LESS of these foods:
Who Should Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- are over the age of 40 people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
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What Happens If You Have High Cholesterol
What does high cholesterol mean?
High cholesterol means there is too much cholesterol in your blood. This can clog up your arteries the large blood vessels that carry blood around your body. Over time, this can lead to serious problems.
How does cholesterol clog up your arteries?
Excess cholesterol can be laid down in the walls of your arteries. Fatty areas known as plaques can form, and these become harder with time, making the arteries stiffer and narrower. This process is called atherosclerosis.
When the arteries become narrower, its harder for blood to flow through them. This puts a strain on your heart because it has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Eventually, the heart can become weak and cant work as well as it should.
Blood clots can form over the fatty, hardened parts of the arteries. The blood clots can block the artery completely, cutting off the blood flow. Bits of the blood clots can break away and become lodged in an artery or vein in another part of the body, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
How To Prevent Complications
Garg emphasizes that to address or prevent any complications from high cholesterol, The first thing patients need to do is identify what about their lifestyle can be improved, with the help of their healthcare team. The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated and trans fats in your diet focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes a week and losing excess weight.
Once we get beyond , then we start to talk about what medications we can use to further reduce your risk, says Garg.
There are a number of cholesterol-lowering medications, according to the AHA. The most commonly prescribed are statins, which work in the liver to prevent cholesterol from forming and can help reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Others include PCSK9 inhibitors, selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile acid sequestrants, niacin, and fibrates. Talk to your doctor about which medication or combination of medications is right for you.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Fh
Familial hypercholesterolemia can affect anyone whose family carries the genetic mutation. However, its found more frequently in those who are of French Canadian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Lebanese or Afrikaner descent. The biggest problem with FH is that more than 90% of people who have it havent been diagnosed, which means you should pay careful attention to your family history,
Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Advanced Lipid Disorders Center.
If people in your family have had heart attacks, needed stents or had bypass surgery earlier in life before age 55 in men and before 65 in women those are signals that theres something causing your family to be at higher risk for heart disease, he explains. It could be familial hypercholesterolemia.