Food Supplements That Do Not Help With Cholesterol
Many extracts and supplements have been promoted for their overall health benefits and lipid-lowering effects, but do they work?
We reviewed the available scientific research and found that the following supplements had no good evidence to support those claims:
Selenium: Supplements may help lower cholesterol in people with low levels of selenium, but not in people with normal levels of selenium. There is not enough scientific evidence to say that selenium protects against cardiovascular disease.
Calcium: Results here are mixed, but the bottom line is calcium supplementation does not improve cholesterol levels.
Garlic supplements: Raw, powdered, and aged garlic supplements had no effect on cholesterol levels.
Policosanol: This substance, which is extracted from sugar cane wax, did not improve cholesterol.
Coconut oil supplements: There is mixed evidence about the cardiovascular benefits or harm of coconut oil. It is not an evidence-based alternative treatment for high cholesterol levels.
Coconut water: There is no high-quality data about coconut water improving cholesterol levels.
Resveratrol supplements: There is no evidence that these improve cholesterol levels in humans.
Soy isoflavones supplements: Taking supplements of soy isoflavones does not improve cholesterol levels.
Foods To Eat And 7 To Avoid For High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is the misunderstood hero of the body. The American Heart Association divides it into two categories: good and bad cholesterol. When people are talking about high cholesterol, they’re likely referring to LDL cholesterol. When there’s too much LDL, fat builds up in the arteries creating a series of heart problems.
On the other hand, good cholesterol is called HDL because they are protective against the harmful effects caused by LDL. “It is also used as starting material in the body for making steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids we need for digestion. Without cholesterol, we would not be alive,” William W. Li, MD, a physician, scientist, and author of Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself tells Health Digest.
A healthy diet involves the right balance of cholesterol. Here’s some food to try and foods with high cholesterol to avoid.
What To Eat To Lower Cholesterol
Several foods help to lower cholesterol in different ways. Some foods contain soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and removes it from the body before entering the circulation system. Other foods contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Foods that contain plant sterols and stanols stop the body from absorbing cholesterol.
Making a few simple changes to your diet and engaging in regular exercise are healthy habits that can lower your cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease and stroke. A heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is recommended. Here are some foods to include in a cholesterol-lowering diet.
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Cholesterol And Healthy Eating
What we eat has an impact on our cholesterol levels and can help reduce our risk of disease. Try to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups. Not only does this help to maintain a healthy and interesting diet, but it provides essential nutrients to the body.
The Heart Foundation recommends:
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.
- A variety of healthy protein sources , legumes , nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure it is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.
- Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.
- Healthy fat choices nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
- Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.
Also, be mindful on how much you are eating and whether you are filling up on unhealthy foods. Portion sizes have increased over time and many of us are eating more than we need which can lead to obesity and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ideally, a healthy plate would include servings of ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrates and ½ vegetables.
Serving size can vary depending on age, gender and specific nutrition needs.
Baked Goods And Sweets
Cookies, cakes and doughnuts usually contain butter or shortening, making them high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
They also tend to be full of sugar, which can lead to high levels of blood triglycerides, an unhealthy blood fat that can be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Instead, make your desserts at home, choosing recipes that dont need shortening or lots of butter. This also allows you to modify recipes and cut down the amount of sugar used, to half or three-quarters the recommended amount. You can also enjoy baked fruit as a dessert, or substitute applesauce for eggs or butter in your baking.
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Butter And Some Oils The Silent Cholesterol Attack
Butter is a high cholesterol food which is something of a silent killer many people never consider the health implications of eating butter because it seems like such a relatively minor part of their diet.
The reality is the butter you spread on your toast and use for cooking can make a huge contribution to your cholesterol levels.
The same applies to certain cooking oils which contain saturated fats like palm oil.
Now, be careful if you want to substitute butter with margarine though some margarine products contain trans fats rather than saturated fats, which actually stimulate the production of bad cholesterol inside your body.
Ideally you want to find spreads and cooking oil products which made from foods high in unsaturated fats.
Olive oil and olive oil based spreads are good examples.
Excessive Drinking Worsens Cholesterol Levels
After a long day, you may want to wine down with a glass, but have too much to drink can backfire with more than a hangover. “Alcohol can increase HDL levels if consumed in moderation. Alcohol tends to increase serum triglyceride levels that’s not good,” Deborah Murray, MS, professor at Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions tells Health Digest. Indeed, a 2013 review in Current Opinion in Lipidology describes the effects of alcohol as a J-shaped curve where the low amounts of alcohol can lower fats called triglycerides. In contrast, a high intake of alcohol is linked to higher triglyceride levels and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, alcoholic fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis development.
Ordering a sugary drink can make it harder to toast to good health. “Watch consumption of alcohol such as margaritas and strawberry daiquiris that contain added fat and sodium,” Murray tells Health Digest. According to Healthline, high sugar levels found in cocktails increase triglyceride levels.
Fortunately, whiskey, vodka, and gin are good alternatives for someone who wants a cholesterol-free drink. Healthline also says that wine has resveratrol, which is good for heart health and can increase HDL levels just be careful of that potential wine-induced headache.
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Foods With Refined Sugars
Foods that are high in refined sugar content should also be avoided if you are watching your lipid levels. Consuming a diet high in refined sugars can adversely affect your HDL and triglyceride levels. Some studies have also found a link between consuming a diet high in refined sugars and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of this, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar in foods should be consumed daily by women, and 9 teaspoons daily for men.
Some of the more obvious foods that are high in refined sugars include candy, pastries, colas, cookies, and cakes. However, refined sugars can be hidden in some seemingly healthier foods, including:
- Fruit juices
- Sauces including tomato and applesauce
- Salad dressings
Refined sugar can also be hidden in some pre-packaged meals and foods, contributing even more sugar and calories to your daily intake. Fortunately, there are some ways to make these foods healthier and with less added sugar. For instance, you can swap your higher carbohydrate white bread for whole-grain bread. Instead of purchasing sugary fruit juices off of the shelf, you make your own fruit juices using real fruit, without the added sugar. This will also increase your fiber intake, a type of carbohydrate that can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
Healthy Eating Tips To Lower Cholesterol
As well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, try these tips to help you manage your cholesterol:
- Limit takeaway foods to once a week .
- Limit salty, fatty and sugary snack foods to once a week .
- Eat plenty of vegetables aim for 5 serves of vegetables every day. .
- Choose wholegrain breads, cereal, pasta, rice and noodles.
- Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit .
- Include legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, split peas), beans into at least two meals a week. Check food labels and choose the lowest sodium products.
- Use spreads and margarines made from healthy unsaturated fats instead of those made with saturated fat .
- Use healthy oils for cooking some include canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Use salad dressings and mayonnaise made from oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Include 2 or 3 serves of plant-sterol-enriched foods every day .
- Have 2 to 3 portions of oily fish every week. Fish may be fresh, frozen or canned.
- Include up to 7 eggs every week.
- Select lean meat and limit unprocessed red meat to less than 350g per week.
- Choose reduced fat, no added sugar milk, yoghurt, or calcium-added non-dairy food and drinks.
- Limit or avoid processed meats including sausages and deli meats .
If you are having trouble with your cholesterol levels, a dietitian can help you to eat healthily for your specific needs.
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People Have A Right To Love Avocados
Avocado toast, anyone? There’s a reason why everyone’s obsessed with the overpriced fad. “Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which are beneficial fats that are heart-healthy, and they are packed with micronutrients that can activate your body’s health defenses against chronic disease,” William W. Li, MD, a physician, scientist, and author of Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself tells Health Digest.
Avocados by themselves have no cholesterol, reports Healthline, but are capable of reducing bad cholesterol. A small 2015 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that people who followed a 5-week avocado diet where they ate avocados daily showed lower LDL cholesterol. Similarly, a 2019 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that people who are overweight or obese who ate an avocado once a day significantly reduced their elevated LDL levels.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adding avocados to food such as avocado slices on a sandwich, eating them as a side dish, or eating guacamole with raw cut vegetables.
So Are There Any High Cholesterol Foods To Avoid
Eaten in moderation, eggs, shellfish, and offal could all potentially feature in a healthy diet. In fact, the NHS states no limit on the number of eggs you can eat in a week but its still important to consider how your intake of eggs and other high cholesterol foods will fit in with a varied and balanced diet.
Another thing to consider is that while foods high in cholesterol may have less of an influence on your blood cholesterol level than those that are high in saturated fat, the way you prepare these foods could still have a significant impact.
As a general rule, cooking methods which require little to no cooking fat, such as poaching, boiling, baking, steaming, and grilling, can help you manage your overall fat intake while still enjoying high cholesterol foods. When frying , choose a vegetable oil as an alternative to butter or oils that are high in saturated fat.
And if you are looking for inspiration when cooking low-cholesterol recipes, you can find here delicious ideas for any meal of the day.
Find out more
We have plenty of resources to help you understand more about managing cholesterol through diet as well as the foods to avoid to lower cholesterol. Find information here on how to create a low cholesterol diet plan.
*High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease, and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.
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How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
The American Heart Association recommends adults 20 years and older have their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years.
Cholesterol levels are checked with a blood test, which may be a fasting or non-fastinglipoprotein profile. A fasting test usually means not eating, drinking certain beverages, or taking medications between 9 and 12 hours before the cholesterol test.
Cholesterol scores usually contain three measurements:
- Low density lipoproteins
- Bad cholesterol
- Too much LDL can build up in the artery walls and form plaque that narrows arteries and restricts blood flow, which lead to coronary artery disease
- High levels of LDL cholesterol mean a person has an increased risk of stroke and heart attack
People who do not have heart disease should aim for the following cholesterol levels:
- Total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL
- Levels above 200 mg/dL are considered high and mean a higher risk for developing heart disease
Foods High In Saturated Fats
Studies have noted that consuming foods high in saturated fat can increase your LDL cholesterol. However, some studies have noted that although foods high in saturated fat may increase your LDL levels, the type of LDL increased is large and buoyant a type of LDL that does not appear to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Nonetheless, these foods are also higher in calories which can cause you to gain weight if you consume these foods regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fat should consist of less than 7% of your daily caloric intake. These foods are usually high in saturated fat:
- Processed meats
- Certain cooking oils
- Animal meat
There are many pre-packaged foods such as snacks and meals that may also be high in saturated fat. In some cases, a low-fat version of your favorite foods may also be available. In these cases, you should check the nutrition labels to verify the amount of saturated fat per serving.
Eat Plant Sterols Margarines And Spreads
Plant sterols, or phytosterols, are chemically similar to blood cholesterol and are found in some plant foods, including nuts. Plant sterols are concentrated from plant sources and then added to some commonly eaten foods such as margarines, spreads or milk.
Plant sterols compete with two other types of cholesterolfor absorption from the gut: pre-made cholesterol, which is found in some foods like prawns, and cholesterol, which is made in your liver. This competition process lowers the total amount of cholesterol that eventually ends up in your blood.
A review concluded that two grams of plant sterols a day leads to an 8-10% reduction in LDL cholesterol.
The type of fat the plant sterols are mixed with is important. A meta-analysis of 32 randomised control trials, involving around 2,100 people, found bigger reductions in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol when plant sterols were added to margarines or spreads derived from canola or rapeseed oil, rather than sunflower or soybean oil.
High Cholesterol Foods To Avoid: A List Of Foods High In Cholesterol
Steering clear of high cholesterol foods is a key part of lowering your cholesterol levels and reducing your risk of many health problems including heart attacks.
This list can be used in conjunction with our list of 10 low cholesterol foods so you can get a good idea of the foods you can substitute into your diet in place of the foods in this list.
If you like, you can use this list to make a high cholesterol food chart for easy reference. 🙂
Remember theres a difference between HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as you go through this high cholesterol food list.
Youll notice that bad cholesterol for the most part comes from animal products, in other words from meat or other foods that come from animals such as milk, cheese and eggs.
Over-consumption of foods like these are direct causes of high cholesterol.
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Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people dont discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.
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