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
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.
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.
Recommended Reading: What Foods Are Good For A Low Cholesterol Diet
Opt For Skinless Chicken
Although chicken is usually considered to be a good low-fat meat choice, how you cook it and serve it makes all the difference. For example, one chicken leg with the skin still on has more fat and saturated fat than a hamburger. Remember that removing the skin will help reduce the overall fat content, King says. Indulge in a fried chicken leg once in a while and stick to the grilled or baked chicken.
If you leave the skin on poultry or bread and deep-fry it, you turn it into an unhealthy, cholesterol-spiking food. Also, remember that dark poultry meat has more fat than white meat. When making chicken choices, opt for skinless and skip the dark meat.
Choose Products Low In Saturated Fat Trans Fat And Cholesterol
When shopping for food, use the nutrition information panel to compare and choose products with lower fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that raises your total and LDL cholesterol and risk of heart disease, so intake should be limited. The average adult should consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.
Trans fat is more harmful and damaging to the arteries as it raises LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol. Ideally, best to get 0 grams of this per day.
Keep in mind that manufacturers can list their products as 0 grams if it has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This means that your food may contain trans-fat even if the food label says 0 gram. Therefore its important to check the ingredient list .
Cholesterol guidelines currently recommend having not more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day, and if you have heart disease, aim for less than 200 milligrams per day.
Read Also: Ldl Cholesterol Effects
How To Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
It is important to make sure that your cholesterol is at healthy levels. But you cant know that without having it checked. The CDC recommends that you get your levels checked every 4 to 6 years.
But, if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, or if you already have diabetes then you should be getting your cholesterol levels checked more often. Same thing applies if your family has a history of heart disease, or if you are overweight.
All of those factors increase the risk of you having higher bad cholesterol levels in your body. And the more often you are getting it checked, the most up to date you will be about what is going on in your body.
So what is a healthy cholesterol level?
According to the CDC, these are healthy blood cholesterol levels:
- LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: greater than 40 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
If you have a high cholesterol or if you want to avoid ever getting a high cholesterol level in your body, then there will be some lifestyle changes that you will have to make. Most of these will be dietary changes but these changes will not be something that you follow for a short time.
It will be something that will stick with your for the rest of your life.
Related Article: 5 Health Benefits of Eating Crab Legs
They will be able to customize the changes for your life goals and your body type. All the advice that you find online is generalized.
I hope this article helped you.
Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
Also Check: Shrimp And High Cholesterol
What Is The Difference Between Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein . It removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol.
If your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL level, you may be at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. But, if your total cholesterol level is high only because of a high HDL level, youre probably not at higher risk.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. When you eat more calories than your body can use, it turns the extra calories into triglycerides.
Changing your lifestyle can improve your cholesterol levels, lower LDL and triglycerides, and raise HDL.
Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart disease.
- Total cholesterol level less than 200 is best, but it depends on your HDL and LDL levels.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 130 is best, but this depends on your risk for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol levels 60 or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides less than 150 milligrams per deciliter is best.
How To Lower Cholesterol
Its important to be clear that no single food is a cure-all for any health condition, including lowering high cholesterol or blood fats.
Furthermore, even a healthy diet that includes many of the following foods may not be enough to help lower high cholesterol for some people.
If you find that even implementing the recommended lifestyle changes for high cholesterol, including a healthy diet and regular exercise, its a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the best next steps for you.
For many people, this involves the use of certain cholesterol-lowering medications.
Still, creating a diet pattern that contains plenty of foods that support healthy cholesterol levels is a great place to start.
These foods arent just ideal for supporting normal cholesterol and blood fat levels they also have a lot to offer your health in general.
Overall, when looking for foods to lower cholesterol, a good approach is to limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Instead, replace these with sources of unsaturated fat and fiber.
Eating more fiber has been shown to be inversely associated with heart disease risk, but unfortunately, fiber intake is low in western cultures.
Don’t Miss: Is Mayo Bad For Cholesterol
How To Lower Cholesterol: Low
Low-carbohydrate diets may help improve HDL cholesterol levels. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study that found while both low-fat and low-carb dieters lost weight over the two-year study period, low-carb dieters also improved their HDL cholesterol levels. The problem with low-carb diets is that they may be difficult to adhere to. Consult your doctor about the best healthy eating plan to manage your cholesterol.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
No oil can necessarily be considered a health food, but a small amount here and there may offer heart health benefits without going overboard with fat and calories.
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple food on a Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to support heart health.
In a 2013 study among 7,447 adults at risk for heart disease, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers divided the participants into three diet groups: a Mediterranean diet plus 4 tablespoons daily of EVOO, a Mediterranean diet plus mixed nuts, or a control diet with the advice to limit dietary fat intake.
After a median follow-up of 4.8 years, they found that the EVOO group had a 30% lower risk of major heart events than the low-fat diet group.
Put It Into Action
- EVOO works well for softening fresh chopped veggies on the stove, making stir-fries, or drizzling over potatoes before roasting them in the oven.
- It also pairs well with flavorful vinegar for salad dressings.
You May Like: Are Mussels High In Cholesterol
What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is classified as good or bad and its important to understand the distinction when choosing your diet. Cholesterol travels through the body in two types of lipoproteins:
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that we limit saturated fats to less than 10% of our daily calorie consumption. This means restricting our intake of bad cholesterol.
What Kind Of Food Should You Avoid If You Have High Cholesterol
Due to the abundance of food available, it is often difficult to find out which of the products you buy are really healthy for your body. However, if you want to watch your level of cholesterol, you should definitely avoid some Foods.
For example, meat that is too fatty is always a danger. In addition, crustaceans and shellfish should be avoided. Sausages with a high fat content can also lead to an increase in the level of cholesterol. Dairy products with high fat content are also a trap, including cheese, butter, milk and cream. Sweet pastries, sweetened drinks and sweets in general are all not always healthy for many reasons including in relation to cholesterol balance. Fast food and convenience foods are also very high on the no-no list.
Read Also: Shrimp Cholesterol Good Or Bad
Benefits Of Eating Seafood
Now that we know high dietary cholesterol wont cause you heart attacks, lets talk about the benefits and risks of eating seafood.
There was a study published back in 2017 that found that oily fish increased the HDL cholesterol levels in blood. This is the good cholesterol.
But wait, theres more. Before you go binging on oily fish, make sure you finish reading the entire article to know about all the risks for consuming a lot of seafood.
Seafood is also known to be a great source of protein and nutrients. So much so, we wrote an entire article about it. Check it out here.
And not just protein, it is also known to contain a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids which are also known to decrease the risks of heart disease.
This makes the case for why you should eat seafood at least 2-3 times each week. But then theres the mercury problem.
The higher your consumption of seafood is, the more mercury you will be consuming. So it depends whether the benefits of consuming seafood outweighs the risks for you.
And not just that, you should also take into account if you have any other healthier alternative where you arent taking as much risk.
We will however list the low mercury seafood options that you have available. And also the high mercury option that you should avoid.
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.
You May Like: Is Pizza Bad For Cholesterol
What Is Considered A Normal Cholesterol Level
Its important to understand what is considered normal for cholesterol levels, as you will no doubt have your cholesterol tested many times. In fact, you should be having your cholesterol tested as part of your yearly physical exam. Dont be fooled if youre a skinny body type, either. The sneaky thing about cholesterol is that you can be a slim person and still have high cholesterol.4
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per tenth-liter of blood. To determine your healthy total cholesterol levels, your HDL and LDL are added together.
This reading should be below 200 mg/dL. You can break that down further and say that your LDL cholesterol should always be less than 160 mg/dl, 130 mg/dL, or 100 mg/dL depending on your risk factors.
These risk factors could include a family history of heart disease, menopause, and others. Meanwhile, your HDL cholesterol should sit around 35 mg/dL, but preferably higher.5
The higher your HDL level, the more you are protected against LDL cholesterol and the problems it can cause.
Nuts As Natural Cholesterol Reducers
Nuts are already very popular with us anyway. They taste delicious and are very healthy! When eaten in moderation, nuts such as walnuts, almonds or pistachios can lower cholesterol its important not to eat too many at once and to choose the unsalted version. In order not to exceed your daily requirement of nuts, we would recommend topping your morning porridge with a tasty portion of nuts of your choice. This is not only a tasty start to the day, but also does something good for your body!
Recommended Reading: Is Bone Broth High In Cholesterol
Good Vs Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins, which are made up of fat on the inside and proteins on the outside. Because fats arent water-soluble, this binding with proteins helps move them through the bloodstream.
Its important to have healthy levels of two lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body: low-density lipoproteins and high-density lipoproteins . Both LDLs and HDLs transport cholesterol in and out of cells and are involved in damage control of cells and tissues.
LDLs carry 75 percent of the cholesterol in our bodies and are the cholesterol compounds most involved in cell damage and tissue repair and protection. HDLs do only 25 percent of the work they transport cholesterol to and from the liver and serve as the bodys cholesterol-recycling system.
LDL is called bad cholesterol because when your levels of LDL are high, this can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. When you have high levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood, you have a greater chance of developing heart disease. LDL cholesterol also raises your risk for a condition called peripheral artery disease, which can develop when plaque buildup narrows an artery supplying blood to the legs.
Conversely, HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol because it can carry cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver, where its properly broken down and removed from your body.