Myth #: Eating Cholesterol Increases Your Bad Cholesterol
Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It’s actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver ? ‘Cause that’s where it’s made!
What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn’t need to make as much.
How Can I Keep Healthy Blood Cholesterol Levels
Talk to your doctor about your numbers. Your risk of disease depends on other factors, too, in combination with high cholesterol. To keep your cholesterol managed, you should do the following:
- Choose healthy foods. Limit foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, sugar, and sodium . Choose foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and veggies, and in unsaturated fats, such as avocados and nuts. Learn more about healthy eatingexternal icon.
- Stay physically active. You should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as biking or brisk walking, every week.6Learn more about physical activityexternal icon.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages the blood vessels and greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you smoke, learn how to quit.
- Take medicine if necessary. A healthy diet and physical activity can help many people reach healthy cholesterol levels, but some people may need medicines to lower their cholesterol. Always take your medicine as prescribed.
Learn more about ways to prevent high cholesterol.
Myth #: Cholesterol Is Bad
Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things, like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones , as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it’s incorporated into the membranes of your cells.
Talk about an important molecule!
The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood isn’t nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.
While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.
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Why Do I Have To Fast
Food and drinks can affect your results because sugar, fats, enzymes, minerals and cholesterol all absorb into your blood stream. Affected results could then lead to an inaccurate diagnosis.
These are some conditions you may be tested for that can require a fasting lab test:
- High cholesterol
- Kidney function
- Liver disease
- Vitamin B12 levels
When Should I Call My Doctor
If you develop new risk factors for cardiovascular disease, contact your healthcare provider. They may have you undergo a lipid panel or more frequent lipid panel screening.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Seeing an abnormal test result can be stressful. Know that having an abnormal lipid panel result doesnt necessarily mean you need treatment. While cholesterol and triglyceride levels can play a significant role in your overall health, many other factors contribute to your risk for cardiovascular disease. Your healthcare provider will take many factors about your health and history into consideration when determining the next steps. Together you will decide on a plan that works best for you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/09/2021.
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What Are The Next Steps If My Lipid Panel Results Are Abnormal
Since many factors contribute to cardiovascular disease and every person is unique, theres no one single way to treat abnormal levels of cholesterol and/or triglycerides.
If you have abnormal lipid panel results, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of the following actions:
- Continued lipid monitoring.
- Lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet or starting an exercise routine.
- Starting a cholesterol-lowering medication.
Tactics To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly
For most of us, there’s really no need to pack our medicine cabinets with pills to reduce cholesterol levels. Natural, lifestyle-based strategies have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing cholesterol quickly and permanently.
Get the top 5 food and fitness tips recommended by the doctors, dietitians, exercise experts, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Pritikin has been helping people lower cholesterol levels since 1975.
Did you know that for every 10% drop in your cholesterol level, your heart attack risk drops by 20% to 30%? Theres more good news: Most of us can reduce cholesterol quickly, and without the need for medications. Simple lifestyle strategies can be very powerful.
Thats what several studies on thousands following the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise have found. Within three weeks, people were able to lower their cholesterol levels on average 23%, which translates into a 46% to 69% drop in heart attack risk.1
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What Causes High Cholesterol
The body naturally produces cholesterol in the liver, which makes up about 75% of the cholesterol in the body. For most people, elevated cholesterol levels come from foods we eat and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Lifestyle factors that can negatively affect cholesterol levels include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, or vaping
In some cases, high cholesterol is genetic. Familial hypercholesterolemia runs in families and increases the risk for premature atherosclerotic heart disease.
How To Read Your Results
Your blood will likely be checked using a test called a total lipid profile. To understand your cholesterol test results, youll need to know the different types of cholesterol that the test measures and whats considered normal, potentially risky, and high.
Heres a breakdown of each type. Keep in mind that people who have conditions such as diabetes may need to aim for even lower numbers.
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How Should You Prepare For A Cholesterol Test
How to prepare. As a general rule, you should fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test, without food or liquids other than water. Some cholesterol tests do not require you to fast, so follow your doctor’s instructions.
Who does not love spicy food. Most people are fond of spices but have you ever thought what does spicy food do to your stomach? Although there may be some serious health benefits to eating spicy food such as prevention from cancer, good heart health, loss of extra calories, but it may also mess up your system, especially your stomach. It can cause gastric ulcers, loss of appetite and even acute gastritis. So, you might want to think twice if you have been over-indulging in hot and spicy foods.
Whats Behind The New Recommendation
This change has been coming for some time. It is driven by data from a dozen-plus studies that include more than 300,000 people whose cholesterol and other lipids were measured when they hadnt fasted. Their levels predicted cardiovascular risk, as well as, or possibly better than, fasting lipid levels.
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Do I Need To Fast For A Lipid Panel
In most cases, you need to fast for 10 to12 hours before your lipid panel blood test. Fasting means not eating or drinking anything except water. In some cases, getting a lipid panel test without fasting is possible.
In any case, its important to ask your healthcare provider in advance about whether you need to fast before the test. Always follow the instructions that your provider gives you. If your provider has instructed you to fast and you accidentally break the fast , please let your provider know because the test is not as useful without fasting.
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Blood tests are commonly used to investigate the cause of symptoms, detect or monitor disease state, or predict disease risk. Advance preparation is not needed prior to most blood tests, as recent food intake does not significantly influence the majority of the components tested. However, some blood tests require that you avoid all foods and liquids — except for water — for up to 12 hours before the test.
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List Of Foods To Avoid Before A Cholesterol Test
In cardiovascular risk assessment, the lipid profile also known as Cholesterol Test is a vital investigation and it has become one of the routine tests in medical checkups. The lipid profile checks the level of total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins and triglycerides.
High density cholesterol is known as Good Cholesterol and high levels of reference are recommended as healthy. Low density cholesterol is considered as Bad Cholesterol and patients are advised to keep it at a lower level. There are certain foods to be avoided before a cholesterol test, which are found to be causing an alteration in the cholesterol test. The test can be performed as a fasting test or a non-fasting test. Evidence suggests that the fasting lipid test will overcome the effect of elevated post-prandial triglyceride level. Patients should be provided with adequate information on foods to avoid before a cholesterol test.
In a fasting lipid profile, all patients should fast for 12 hours prior to the test.
- They must avoid eating any type of solid or semisolid food during these 12 hours. But it is important to state that the patient should continue drinking water and any medication he is on. After a meal, the calories of the foods are converted to triglycerides and they remain high in the blood for a significant number of hours. The need for fasting before the test is based on this concept.
Things You Should Know When Your Cholesterol Is High
Created on August 25th, 2018 · Last updated on April 12th, 2019 ·
Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator
Cholesterol seems to be a buzzing topic, with a bit of an over-emphasis – borderlining obsession.
Before we jump into busting some myths, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.
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What Are Risk Factors For High Blood Cholesterol
Lifestyle, some health conditions, and family history can raise your risk for high cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest you have your cholesterol checked more often if you have risk factors, such as the following:
- A family history of heart disease or high blood cholesterol. You are more at risk of having high cholesterol if other people in your family have it. This may be due to genetics, but it may also be that families share the same unhealthy lifestyle habits. Some people also have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, which can cause high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol from a young age.
- Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes raises bad cholesterol and lowers high-density lipoprotein , or good, cholesterol, raising the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Older age. As you age, your body cant clear cholesterol as well as it used to.
- Being male. Men tend to have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels than women do. But after menopause , LDL cholesterol levels in women increase.4,5
- Having overweight or obesity. Excess weight, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity can lead to high cholesterol.
- Previously having had high cholesterol. If you have a history of high cholesterol, your doctor may want you to keep a closer watch on your cholesterol.
Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
You Skip Your Workouts
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control your cholesterol. You donât have to run a marathon — 40 minutes of walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing 3 or 4 times a week will do the trick. If youâre short on time, you can break it into 10-minute increments throughout the day. Resistance training — pushups, pullups, weights — may help, too.
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What Are Normal Lipid Panel Results
The optimal level for each of the four standard tests in a lipid panel are as follows:
- Total cholesterol: Below 200 mg/dL.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Above 60 mg/dL.
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Below 100 mg/dL .
- Triglycerides: Below 150 mg/dL.
If your results are higher or lower than the target range, they may be classified as borderline-, intermediate-, or high-risk for cardiovascular issues. In general, higher-than-normal levels of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides and lower-than-normal levels of HDL can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Its rare to have abnormally low levels of cholesterol. If you do, its usually due to a health condition thats causing malnutrition.
Ok To Eat Before Rolling Up Sleeve For Cholesterol Test
Before filling one of these tubes with blood for a cholesterol test, you’re supposed to keep your stomach empty. But that may not be necessary.hide caption
Before filling one of these tubes with blood for a cholesterol test, you’re supposed to keep your stomach empty. But that may not be necessary.
Skipping breakfast to take a medical test is nobody’s idea of fun. And it’s one reason why many people never get around to having a cholesterol test.
So it’s good news that some doctors are now saying that for most people, a nonfasting cholesterol test will do just fine.
But who gets to take a pass on the unpleasant skip-your-breakfast routine? To find out, Shots called Samia Mora. She’s a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
The bottom line: If you don’t already have high triglycerides and you’re not diabetic, forget the fast. Enjoy your breakfast.
This seems so utterly different from what we’ve been told for so many years, we had to know more. Why diabetics? “Their triglycerides tend to be high,” Mora says. And triglycerides are the blood lipids that shoot up after eating a fatty meal.
Still, Mora says, you’d have to eat a really fatty meal to move the triglyceride level much. “Steak and french fries within a couple of hours of your test” could do that, she says.
The levels of low-density lipoprotein , varied about 10 percent, and triglycerides varied about 20 percent.
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Why Is Test Accuracy Regarded As Important
We have discussed about how the test should provide accurate result, but why is accuracy considered important? When patients undergo cholesterol test, the result of the test will be an important record that determines the subsequent medical treatment that they should undergo. Their doctor will provide them with medical treatment according to the result of the test. If the result is inaccurate because the blood is obtained when it is contaminated by the content of the aforementioned foods, the doctor may prescribe unnecessary treatment to them. This is the biggest risk that inaccurate cholesterol test result may pose. To avoid such risk, ensuring the accuracy of the test result by behaving normally prior to the test and by trying to avoid foods and drinks that may render the result inaccurate is considered important. Consult your doctor if you want to learn more about all food-related issues before you undergo the test.
What Age Should I Get Screened For High Blood Cholesterol
About 1 in 5 adolescents have an unhealthy cholesterol reading,1 and nearly 93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have high cholesterol.2 But since high cholesterol doesnt have symptoms, many people dont know their levels are high.
Cholesterol should be checked starting early in lifeeven children and adolescents should have their cholesterol checked.
Cholesterol testing should be done
- Every 5 years for people age 20 or older who are at low risk for cardiovascular disease.3
- More frequently than every 5 years for people with cardiovascular disease risk factors.3
The 2018 ACC/AHA Guidelines recommend that cholesterol management be based on a persons lifetime cardiovascular risk.1
If your family has a history of early heart attacks or heart disease, or if a child has obesity or diabetes, doctors may recommend screening for high cholesterol more often.
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Can I Eat A Little Bit Before Blood Test
If you accidentally ate before a fasting blood test, you should let your healthcare provider know right away so that you dont receive incorrectly interpreted results. In some cases, you may still be able to receive your test as scheduled, but in other cases, you may need to move your test to a different day.
What To Eat For Dinner The Night Before A Cholesterol Test
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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.
Whatll It Be: Feast Or Fast
If youre not taking statins, you might not have to fast.
For years, doctors ordered fasts before cholesterol tests. The logic? Scientists thought chowing down affected lipid levels . They also thought eating distorted low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
Recently, scientists have found that fasting has minimal impact on test results for total cholesterol level, LDL cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
In fact, testing after eating may help better predict cardiovascular risk, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Since most people chow down throughout the day, post-meal tests may best reflect normal lipid levels.
Recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology advise that as long as youre not taking statins, you might not have to fast.
Hold that acai bowl does that mean youre in the clear? Not necessarily. Many doctors say to fast anyway, so always listen up.
Though eating doesnt significantly impact three measures of the test, it can affect the fourth. Eating can raise your triglyceride levels for several hours especially if you enjoy a high fat meal . The effect is usually small, though.
If the reading seems too high, your doctor may order another test post-fast.
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