Thursday: Savor Some Salmon For Dinner
Get into the habit of choosing salmon over steak and youll be doing your heart a favor. Adding fish to your diet is beneficial in two ways, according to the American Heart Association. First, youre replacing meat, which is often high in LDL-raising saturated fat, with fish, which is low in saturated fats. Youre also getting beneficial omega-3 fats from fish, which lower triglyceride levels . Thats a double win, Kramer says.
The Healthy Cholesterol Level For You
It’s important for people to understand that there’s no “normal” LDL cholesterol level. Dr. Lloyd-Jones.
Instead, he says, you should work with your doctor to identify the level that’s most optimal for you and form a plan to get there. That begins with a cholesterol test and a discussion of your risk factors.
And if you learn your number is too high? You have a lot of potential ways to bring it back down again.
Take A Garlic Supplement
Theres to suggest that taking garlic supplements can moderately reduce LDL cholesterol.
As early as 2000 , research suggested that garlic may help to reduce your bodys absorption of cholesterol and lower triglycerides in your blood. But more research is needed to definitively understand how garlic is linked to lower cholesterol levels.
You can find garlic supplements at any health food store or simply start using more raw garlic in your cooking at home.
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How Quickly Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels may lower as quickly as a few weeks to a few months, depending on your treatment plan.
If your levels are very high, your healthcare provider may recommend taking medications at the start of your treatment plan. This may help lower your cholesterol levels more quickly. The sooner you can lower your bad cholesterol levels, the sooner you can lower your risk for plaques to form.
You can also lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and diet changes alone, but it may take three to six months to see results. Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
Lower Cholesterol To Prevent Heart Attack And Stroke
If you need to lower your cholesterol, you can take steps each day that will help. First, if you’re taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, remember to stick to your daily medication schedule. If you can then pick up some heart-healthy habits, you may see your numbers start to improve in only a matter of weeks, says Chauncey Crandall, MD, a cardiologist at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Lowering your cholesterol not only reduces your risk for heart disease, but also helps prevent heart attack and stroke. So what are you waiting for? Heres a weeks worth of tips one a day that will have you seeing better numbers in no time.
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Higher Monounsaturated Fat Intake
Higher intake of monounsaturated fat can raise high-density lipoprotein cholesterol without increasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, with corresponding reductions in cardiovascular disease risks.
In a small study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers examined the effects of either high or low intake of monounsaturated fats in 24 patients on a 1-month low-saturated-fat diet . They found that levels of HDL cholesterol increased by 12.5%, the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL dropped by 6.5%, and LDL cholesterol did not increase in those consuming a diet high in monounsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fat increased the effectiveness of a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio, despite statin-like reductions in LDL cholesterol. The potential benefits for cardiovascular risk were achieved through increases in HDL cholesterol, further reductions in the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, and reductions in C-reactive protein, they wrote. C-reactive protein is a biomarker of inflammation linked to higher CHD risk.
They added: Raising HDL cholesterol by increasing the intake of monounsaturated fat may also have dietary appeal, not only as part of the Mediterranean diet but also because olives, avocados, nuts, and canola and olive oils are potentially rich sources of monounsaturated fat.
Exercise On Most Days
Engaging in moderate exercise can help raise your HDL cholesterol while boosting your overall cardiovascular health. If youre fairly sedentary now, start with small amounts, working your way up to 30 minutes of exercise five times each week. If you prefer more vigorous aerobic exercise, 20 minutes three times a week will suffice.
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Will Stopping Smoking Lower My Cholesterol
If you’re a smoker you might already know you should stop if you have high cholesterol. Smoking increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- If youre struggling to stop smoking, talking to your GP is a great first step, or if youre in England you can call the NHS Stop Smoking Service on 0300 123 1044.
- There are also free services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
These services will be able to give you useful advice on how to deal with cravings and gradually stop smoking.
Find out more about what smoking does to your body.
Dangers Of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of cells, nerves and hormones.
Although your body needs cholesterol, excess cholesterol can build up and form a fatty plaque on the walls of the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood to vital areas of the body. If plaque continues to build long-term, it can significantly increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
So what causes high cholesterol? Believe it or not, the answer goes way beyond a high cholesterol diet.
While cholesterol is normally kept in balance, an unhealthy diet high in hydrogenated fats and refined carbohydrates can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to increased cholesterol levels. This imbalance is manifested in elevated LDL and low HDL , which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Other causes can include physical inactivity, diabetes, stress and hypothyroidism.
But keep in mind that not all cholesterol is created equally. LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, is the form that can build up on the artery walls and increase your risk of heart disease. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is often dubbed good cholesterol because it travels through the bloodstream, removing harmful cholesterol from the arteries to help enhance heart health.
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What Is The Difference Between Hdl Cholesterol And Ldl Cholesterol
Along with smoking and high blood pressure, high cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. You can lower your blood cholesterol levels by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking medication.
The two main types of cholesterol are high density lipoproteins , or good cholesterol, and low density lipoproteins , or bad cholesterol. Some cholesterol is needed by the body, but high levels can be dangerous.
Heres a breakdown of HDL and LDL, including what makes one good and the other bad, as well as what a person can do to control their levels.
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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.
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What Are The Risks Linked To High Cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease .
The excess LDL cholesterol leads to fatty deposits called plaque forming in the artery walls. Over time, the plaque causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries .
This can lead to:
- Angina when plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply your heart, known as the coronary arteries, they become narrower and are partially blocked, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. This may cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
- Heart attack if a plaque in a coronary artery bursts , a clot may form and block the supply of blood to the heart, starving it of oxygen.
- Stroke if the blood vessels that supply the brain become narrower or blocked by plaque, blood supply to the brain can be severely reduced or cut off, causing a stroke. Strokes can also be caused when a clot from another part of the body travels through the blood and lodges in an artery in the brain.
- Peripheral vascular disease this usually affects the arteries that supply the legs and feet, causing leg pain when walking , and even pain when resting, when the circulation is more badly affected
A high level of HDL cholesterol is good because HDL cholesterol helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the blood, taking them back to the liver where they’re removed from the blood and passed out of the body.
What Happens When Ldl Cholesterol Is Too High
When these LDL cholesterol particles get into our arteries, they trigger an immune system response. The body sends in inflammatory cells to try and clear the leftover cholesterol, but that very process creates more damage, which can attract more LDL cholesterol particles.
“It becomes a little bit of a vicious cycle,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says.
He explains that over time, this damage can make it more likely someone will form plaque in their artery walls. That narrows the arteries, limiting blood flow and significantly raising the risk of heart disease.
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The Link Between Dietary And Blood Cholesterol
The liver produces as much cholesterol as your body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in whats called very low-density lipoproteins .
As VLDL delivers fat to cells throughout the body, it changes into the more dense LDL, which carries cholesterol wherever it is needed.
The liver also releases HDL, which then carries unused cholesterol back to the liver. This process is called reverse cholesterol transport, and it protects against clogged arteries and other types of heart disease.
Some lipoproteins, especially LDL and VLDL, are prone to damage by free radicals in a process called oxidation. Oxidized LDL and VLDL are even more harmful to heart health .
Although food companies often advertise products as being low in cholesterol, recent research has shown that dietary cholesterol actually has only a small influence on the amount of cholesterol in the body .
This is because the liver changes the amount of cholesterol it makes depending on how much you eat. When your body absorbs more cholesterol from your diet, it makes less in the liver.
Current guidelines by leading U.S. health organizations for lowering risk of heart disease no longer contain specific recommended levels for dietary cholesterol, including the:
- American Heart Association (
- 7 )
The guidelines do recommend moderating cholesterol consumption, but this is more to limit the saturated fat that often accompanies cholesterol in foods than to limit intake of cholesterol itself .
Try Taking Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring compound that helps lower LDL cholesterol in the body.
This is because they help reduce inflammation and blood pressure which can lower your risk for heart disease over time.
Studies show that taking Coenzyme Q-CoQ pills may lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 15%. The best part about this supplement is it does not have any side effects unless you are allergic to seafood!
This is one of many supplements created from natural sources as well, so be sure to speak with a doctor before beginning any new medication or supplementation regimen.
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What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is made by your liver. Its a waxy substance that your body uses to build cells, among other processes.
Eating fatty foods and oils can cause your liver to make extra cholesterol. It can also come from the meat and dairy products in your diet.
LDL cholesterol is whats known as bad cholesterol. High LDL can also be linked to high triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that comes from your diet.
If you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up into a hard, waxy substance in your arteries, called plaque. When this happens, your arteries become narrow and less flexible.
Friday: Enjoy A Blueberry Yogurt Parfait Dessert
I consider blueberries one of my superfoods, says Crandall, who eats them any chance he gets. All berries contain antioxidants, but certain berries contain more fiber. One serving size of blueberries contains 5 g another reason they’re a good choice to help lower cholesterol fast.
You can eat blueberries dried, and you can cook with them, too. If theyre not in season, you can buy packs of frozen blueberries just be careful to use them as soon as they thaw out, so they’re still firm. An excellent way to enjoy blueberries is to layer them with fat-free or low-fat yogurt for a tasty parfait as a desert.
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol With Medicines
As well as making lifestyle changes, some people will need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to reduce their risk of heart and blood vessel disease, known as cardiovascular disease. The medicines most commonly used are called statins.
Your doctor will consider all your risk factors for cardiovascular disease before suggesting medication not just your cholesterol and lipid results. If youve already had a heart attack or stroke, taking statins can substantially lower your risk of having another one.
Statins work by slowing the amount of cholesterol made in your liver. In response, your liver uses the cholesterol already in your blood to make up for the deficit. This lowers the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
If statins alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may need additional medicines.
Contact your doctor if your medicines are causing any side effects.
Foods That Lower Cholesterol Fast
A sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity and poor nutrition all contribute to elevated cholesterol. Certain factors such as your age, genes and race have an impact too. According to a 2016 review published in the journal Cell, this condition runs in families. Back in 1938, it was named familial hypercholesterolemia.
While you cannot control these factors, you can change your diet and lifestyle habits to keep your heart healthy. Some foods, including olive oil and fatty fish, have been shown to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol levels. Others, especially those high in trans fats, have the opposite effect.
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Its important to note that dietary cholesterol has a minimal impact on blood cholesterol levels. In 2018, the journal Nutrients published a review describing the relationship between the two. Researchers point out that trans fats and saturated fatty acids, not dietary cholesterol, increase heart disease risk.
Therefore, a low-cholesterol diet wont necessarily reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels. What you need to do is to replace deli meats, chips, fries, hydrogenated vegetable oil and other sources of trans fats with whole foods rich in healthy fats.
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Should I Stop Drinking If I Have High Cholesterol
Cutting down on alcohol will help your liver to work better at removing bad cholesterol. It may also improve your heart health in other ways by helping you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Our top tips for drinking alcohol are to:
- drink less than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have a few days each week where you dont drink at all
- avoid binge drinking by drinking half what you usually would
- order a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Read more of our advice on alcohol.By making some of these small changes you should see your cholesterol levels go down.
Start A Healthy Plan And Make A Delicious Recipe
One of the best ways to reduce or prevent high cholesterol is to cut back on the foods that cause it. Those include trans fats, often listed as partially hydrogenated oil on cookie and cracker packages, and saturated fats, found mostly in meat, cheese and butter. To replace those foods, eat more high-fiber plant foods and heart-healthy fats the foods known to lower cholesterol. We list seven of these superfoods below. If overhauling your entire diet sounds too hard, try making just one change per week to make healthy changes that stick.
Week 1: Opt for oats for breakfastOats just might be the perfect way to start your day. They energize you, keep you regular and have more soluble fiber the kind that kicks out bad LDL cholesterol than any other grain. You dont even have to cook them see below for the easiest recipe ever. Other good grain choices are oat bran, barley and whole grains in general.
Week 2: Add an apple a dayApples are high in pectin, another type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL cholesterol. Strawberries, blueberries, grapes and oranges also pack loads of pectin and other nutrients that give them their vibrant colors, so load up.
Week 4: Have a handful of nutsSnacking on a small handful of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts or pistachios every day can lower bad cholesterol by about 5 percent, studies show. The unsaturated fats in nuts are good for your heart too, unlike the saturated or trans fats in salami, cheese and many crackers.
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