How Can Foods Help Lower Cholesterol
People can often reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterolfound in meat, dairy products, and eggsraise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk. Foods high in saturated fat are especially dangerous because they can trigger the body to produce extra cholesterol.
Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.
It is important to continue to work closely with your health care provider to monitor your health and manage medications, even as you make dietary changes.
Lowering Your Total And Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Here are some things you can do:
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Exercise regularly. For example, walk or ride a bicycle for 30 minutes at least three times a week.
Eat fewer high-fat foods, like butter, cheese, meat, and some vegetable fats . Foods that are high in saturated fat should be less than 7 percent of your total daily calories.
Eat more high-fiber foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, and whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta.
Your doctor can help you plan a heart-healthy diet. If exercising and changing your diet do not help enough, you might need to take a medicine to lower your cholesterol level.
What Fibrates Are Available To Treat High Cholesterol Levels
Fibric acid derivatives
- Increased bleeding time.
Adenosine triphosphate-citric lyase inhibitors
The FDA has approved bempedoic acid to lower cholesterol. Bempedoic acid works in the liver to slow down cholesterol production. The medication comes in 180-mg tablets taken once per day with or without food. It should be taken with statin medications, but there are dosage limitations if taken with simvastatin or pravastatin.
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Focus On Fruits Vegetables Whole Grains And Beans
Our typical American diet is now abbreviated as SAD by scientists nationwide because its full of foods that do sad things to both hearts and waistlines. Hyperprocessed foods like potato chips and French fries. Sugar-saturated drinks. And fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese.
We dont have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier well be.
Plant foods high in soluble fiber are especially beneficial in lowering total and LDL bad cholesterol levels. Good sources include beans , yams, oats , barley, and berries.
For simple tips on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your life, here is a 5-day sample healthy meal plan from the doctors and dietitians at Pritikin Longevity Center.
Eating Well + Exercise
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3
The Stanford University School of Medicine study involved 200 middle-aged Americans, all sedentary and with poor eating habits. Some were told to launch new food and fitness habits at the same time. Others began dieting but waited several months before beginning to exercise. A third group started exercising but didnt change eating habits till several months later.
All the groups received telephone coaching and were followed for one year. The winning group was the one making food and exercise changes together. The people in this group were most likely to meet U.S. guidelines for exercise and healthy eating , and to keep calories from saturated fat at less than 10% of their total intake of calories.
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3
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What Are Early Signs Of Fh
When you have FH, early detection of high cholesterol levels is key to getting the treatment that can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to family history of early cardiovascular problems, you may also notice lumps forming under your skin.
These fatty deposits are called xanthomas, and are particularly noticeable around tendons in the hands, knees, Achilles tendons and elbows, and under the skin around your eyes. Sometimes an ophthalmologist may spot signs of cholesterol deposits in your eyes as well.
Whether or not you have obvious signs of high cholesterol, you should get checked if heart disease runs in your family. Talk to your family doctor about your concerns a simple blood test is all it takes to see if your cholesterol levels are in the healthy range. A high cholesterol level at a young age is a particular red flag that you may have FH. If your doctor suspects you have the condition, you can undergo genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis.
Good Cholesterol Vs Bad Cholesterol
When your doctor checks your cholesterol with a blood test called a lipid panel, the results arent simply one number. A full picture of your cholesterol level and whether or not it needs lowering comes from four separate but related values: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total blood cholesterol.
LDL, often referred to as bad cholesterol, stands for low-density lipoprotein. LDL transports cholesterol through your bloodstream to your cells. The bad part of LDL is that in high levels, it tends to build up fatty plaques inside your arteries a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis reduces blood flow through the affected arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart and kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and blood clots. For adults, a healthy LDL level is less than 100 mg/dl.
HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is often referred to as good cholesterol. It helps remove LDL from your bloodstream by carrying it back to the liver, where its broken down for excretion. Thus, HDL helps protect your heart from disease and lowers your risk of stroke. A healthy HDL level for adults is more than 60 mg/dl.
Triglycerides are a type of fat that stores excess energy from the calories you consume. A high level of triglycerides indicates an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. A triglyceride blood test result above 150 mg/dl is considered too high.
Total blood cholesterol
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How To Lower Ldl Cholesterol On A Low
Discuss any changes in your labs, medications, and relevant lifestyle changes with your doctor. Full disclaimer
Whether or not cholesterol is the most important risk factor for heart disease in people who eat a low-carb diet and whether or not lowering it is important remains to be proven.1 However, contemporary medical consensus is that elevated LDL increases cardiovascular risk. We recognize the difficult situation many people face if they have seen significant benefits from a low-carb lifestyle yet experience a rise in LDL.
It may be hard to imagine abandoning a way of eating that has helped you lose weight, improve blood sugar and insulin resistance, normalize blood pressure, decrease hunger, or provide other benefits. Fortunately, there are ways to lower your LDL without losing the many positive effects of a low-carb lifestyle.
Are There Any Treatments For High Cholesterol Levels Caused By Genetics
Usually, the first line of treatment for high cholesterol is lifestyle modification, but if you have FH youll need more advanced treatment. Its always important to eat a low-fat diet, exercise and control your weight. Having a healthy lifestyle is crucial for heart health and for overall health, says Martin. However, people with FH could eat an extremely low-fat diet and still not be able to control their cholesterol because theyre genetically unable to handle it. For them, cholesterol is going to build up in the bloodstream regardless of what they eat.
Fortunately, there are medications that can substantially lower LDL cholesterol levels. The most common treatment for FH is statin drug therapy. Statin drugs work by blocking an enzyme that produces cholesterol in the liver and increases your bodys ability to remove cholesterol from the blood. They can lower your LDL cholesterol levels by 50 percent or more. Statins have been safely used to reduce the risk of heart disease for 30 years and continue to be the number one option when it comes to helping people with FH.
Other treatment options include medications that block cholesterol from being absorbed from your intestines into your bloodstream, or drugs that block an enzyme called PCSK9, which reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
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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.
Herbs And Supplements That Lower Cholesterol
In some people, cholesterol levels in the blood become too high. This is called high cholesterol or hyperlipidemia. High levels of LDL cholesterol are considered a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
LDL cholesterol is thought to irritate the lining of blood vessels, stimulating atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries. Lowering LDL cholesterol and raising levels of HDL cholesterol has traditionally been the focus for treatment and lifestyle changes.
So far, scientific support for the claim that any supplement or alternative medicine can safely treat high cholesterol is lacking, but some may be of use in conjunction with other therapy. Here are some supplements to consider.
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How To Swap Unhealthy Fats For Healthy Fats
- Choose to buy foods containing healthy fats such as olive oil, or other unsaturated fats.
- Read the product labels. Green and amber colour codes are used for low and medium saturated fat content.
- What is low fat? For each 100g of food, low fat is 3 g or less. Low saturated fat is 1.5 g or less.
- What is high fat? For each 100g of fat, 17.5 g or more is high-fat. 5g or more is high-saturated fat.
- Cook with small amounts of healthy fat such as 1-calorie olive oil cooking spray.
- Boil, bake, steam, or grill, using small amounts of healthy fat only.
- Cut the fat off meat before you cook it and get rid of the skin. Use the best quality, leanest meat you can find. If you use cooking oil from a bottle, measure out your cooking oil so you use no more than a teaspoon.
- Bulk-out recipes with vegetables, beans, and pulses.
- Look for healthy alternatives. You can swap standard chocolate brownies for example for healthy chocolate and avocado brownies, made with avocado instead of butter.
- Use plant-based spreads on bread rather than butter.
- Choose skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, and low-fat yoghurts.
- Avoid high-fat takeaway foods, often containing fatty meat, high-fat cheese, sauces, and fried accompaniments such as chips and fried rice.
- Avoid biscuits, cakes, and chocolates choose healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts instead.
For more information
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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.
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Modify Your Risk Factors
High cholesterol is usually treated based on total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol levels, plus the presence of additional risk factors for heart disease. While some cannot be changed, some can:
- Previous heart attack
- Family history of early heart disease
- Age over 45 in men and greater than 55 in women
- 10-year risk of a heart attack greater than 20%
Of these, not smoking is something you take action on. You can also treat your high blood pressure and diabetes to keep them under control.
Dietary And Lifestyle Changes
Dietary and lifestyle changes are key to making lasting changes in cholesterol levels.
Although they do not produce results as quickly as medications do, a person may notice their cholesterol levels drop in just a few weeks or months if they stick to a healthful diet and lifestyle plan.
Increase intake of plant foods
Plant foods are rich in vitamins and nutrients, and they lack cholesterol.
A review published in noted that people who ate vegetarian diets had significantly lower cholesterol levels compared with omnivores.
The authors also noted that some targeted diets using plant foods might cause stronger effects.
For example, a diet rich in soluble fiber, plant sterols, and vegetable protein sources, such as soy and nuts, reduced LDL cholesterol by an average of 28.6% in just 4 weeks.
People who need to reduce their cholesterol quickly can work with a dietitian to create a targeted diet plan.
Increase fiber intake
While adding plant foods to the diet increases fiber intake naturally, it may also be helpful to take a fiber supplement or over-the-counter fiber drink to support the body.
Fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and may help prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol.
Avoid trans fats
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Otc Supplements For The Management Of High Cholesterol
Emily M. Ambizas, PharmD, MPH, CGPAssociate Clinical ProfessorCollege of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New YorkClinical Specialist, Rite Aid PharmacyWhitestone, New York
US Pharm. 2017 42:8-11.
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States, with coronary artery disease being the number-one cause of death.1 Dyslipidemia is a major contributor to the development of CAD and other forms of atherosclerosis individuals with high total cholesterol levels have about twice the risk for heart disease. Approximately 100 million adults in the U.S. have total cholesterol levels > 200 mg/dL , and almost 74 million have high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol .2,3 Adults aged > 20 years should have their cholesterol measured at least once every 5 years.2
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 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.