Putting Together A Low Cholesterol Diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber soy protein and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
Why Do We Need Cholesterol
Cholesterol plays a vital role in how your body works. There is cholesterol in every cell in your body, and itâs especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
- Its part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your bodys cells
- Its used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
- Its used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat
Is Cholesterol A Fatty Acid
Cholesterol is an unsaturated alcohol in the steroid family of compounds it is essential for the proper functioning of all animal cells and is a central component of their cell membranes. Triglycerides are fatty acid esters of glycerol which are the primary lipid portion of animal food fats which fat deposits.
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Increase Your Intake Of Unsaturated Fats
Studies show that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can reduce blood triglyceride levels, especially when they are replacing carbohydrates in your diet .
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are present in vegetable oils and fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia.
One older study analyzed what 452 adults in a specific population of indigenous people in Alaska had eaten over the past 24 hours, focusing on several types of saturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Researchers found that saturated fat intake was associated with increased blood triglycerides, while polyunsaturated fat intake was associated with lower triglyceride levels .
Another review of 27 studies reported that olive oil could significantly decrease levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol compared with other types of plant oil .
To maximize the triglyceride-lowering benefits of unsaturated fats, pick a heart-healthy fat like olive oil and use it to replace other types of fat in your diet, such as trans fats or highly processed vegetable oils .
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can decrease blood triglyceride levels, especially when they are consumed in place of other fats.
Does Lemon Water Lower Triglycerides
Multiple useful cardiovascular effects have been discovered including enhancement of fibrinolytic activity, lowering of blood pressure, reduction in cholesterol, and triglyceride. The results showed that combination of garlic and lemon juice significantly reduced serum TC, LDL-C, and blood pressure.
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When Are Triglyceride Levels Measured
Triglyceride levels are usually measured whenever you have a blood test called a Lipid Profile. Everyone over age 20 should have their cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. Your healthcare provider can check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by taking a sample of blood, which is sent to a lab for testing. The Lipid Profile shows your triglyceride level, total cholesterol level, HDL cholesterol and LDL levels.
Blood triglyceride levels are normally high after you eat. Therefore, you should wait 12 hours after eating or drinking before you have your triglyceride levels tested. Many other factors affect blood triglyceride levels, including alcohol, diet, menstrual cycle, time of day and recent exercise.
Can I Monitor Triglyceride Levels At Home
A few products are available to test lipid levels, including triglycerides, at home. There are two types of home testing: those where you collect the sample at home and then mail it away to a laboratory for testing and those where you conduct the test yourself at home . The American Heart Association hasnt taken a position on the use of home testing devices for measuring lipid levels. Before making the decision to use one of these products, you may want to review the article about home testing on this site: With Home Testing, Consumers Take Charge of Their Health.
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Are There Any Symptoms Associated With A High Level Of Triglycerides
Usually, most people with high triglyceride levels have no symptoms and the only means of discovering a high level is with blood tests. However, in rare cases, a person may have an extremely high level of triglycerides sustained over time and the individual may experience repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis. Some of the signs and symptoms include pain in the upper half of the stomach area that develops suddenly and then gradually gets worse, fever, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes jaundice. A person with severely high levels may also develop lesions on the skin called xanthomas. These typically appear as several small, round, solid, yellow bumps mostly on the back, chest, buttocks, shoulders and thighs.
Ask Your Doctor About Natural Supplements
Several natural supplements could have the potential to lower blood triglycerides. Always speak with your doctor before starting any supplements as they can interact with other medications.
Note especially that the Food and Drug Administration , and supplement quality can vary widely.
Below are a few of the main supplements that have been studied:
- Fish oil. Well known for its potent effects on heart health, fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease triglycerides and several other risk factors for heart disease (
Several supplements have been studied for their ability to lower triglyceride levels, including fish oil, fenugreek, garlic extract, guggul, and curcumin.
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Hypothyroidism Or Subclinical Low Thyroid
Hypothyroidism means that you have an underactive thyroid that is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. In functional medicine, we dont tend to wait until your numbers are bad enough to diagnose hypothyroidism.
If your numbers are in the low range of whats considered normal, you have subclinical low thyroid that increases your risk of hypothyroidism and may already cause symptoms and health issues. This is when we ideally like to address the issue and prevent further problems.
Hypothyroidism and subclinical low thyroid levels can increase your risk of high triglycerides. A 2011 study published in The Open Cardiovascular Medical Journal has found that your lipid profile, including triglyceride levels and the triglycerides/cholesterol ratio, can be impacted by your thyroid function . A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology has also found a link between thyroid issues and lipid metabolism .
What Can Raise Your Triglycerides
Triglycerides can be raised due to what doctors refer to as ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ causes, explained below. Some people have a combination of both.
It is very important that your doctors investigates all these potential causes so that you can start treatment.
Primary causes of raised triglycerides
‘Primary’ refers to inherited conditions which cause raised triglyceride levels.
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How Do Triglycerides Circulate In The Blood
Pure cholesterol cannot mix with or dissolve in the blood. Instead, the liver packages cholesterol with triglycerides and proteins called lipoproteins. The lipoproteins move this fatty mixture to areas throughout the body.
Types of these lipoproteins include very low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins .
How To Minimize Your Risk Of Developing Cardiovascular Disease
To manage your CVD risk, its important to know your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride numbers like you know your birthday. A healthy triglyceride level is less than 1.7 mmol/L.
If your triglyceride level is high, there are several lifestyle changes that can help return it to normal:
- Limit your total fat intake to 20% to 35% of your daily calories, specifically restricting saturated and trans fats.
- Avoid overeating and consuming too many calories. Cutting calories from alcohol and sugary foods is especially valuable.
- Keep active, and work at staying at a healthy weight.
- Eat fatty fish at least twice a week as fish containing omega-3 fatty acids can further help reduce triglyceride levels.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Medias quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.
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Triglycerides And Cholesterol: The Similarities
Here are some things that triglycerides and cholesterol have in common.
On their own, triglycerides and cholesterol are not bad. When they are at healthy levels, they are both part of a well-functioning body. But both triglycerides and cholesterol tend to get a bad rap, because
Too much of either isnt good. When your body has too much LDL, it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Triglyceride elevations are known to associate with heart and vascular disease risk, although the relationship is not the same as with cholesterol, Milks says.
Both can be checked with a blood test. Triglyceride and cholesterol levels can both be measured easily by your doctor using a blood test called a lipid profile. Your doctor may order the test as part of a routine exam or to monitor a condition, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, heart disease, or diabetes.
Both are treated in a similar way. In the case of both triglycerides and cholesterol, a healthy lifestyle is key. Triglyceride levels are generally quite responsive to therapeutic lifestyle changes, says Milks. These include a healthy body weight, regular physical activity, a prudent diet, and no more than moderate alcohol consumption. All of these habits can improve cholesterol levels, too.
High Triglycerides: Getting Help
When it comes to cholesterol and triglycerides, perhaps the most important thing is to get regular screenings.
See your doctor and get checked out. If your triglycerides are high, you and your doctor can decide on a treatment plan — and you can make a few simple but effective changes to your lifestyle.
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Can Lowering Carbs Actually Improve Tg/hdl Rc And Cv Risk
Yes. There is plenty of evidence showing this. Multiple studies range from clinical trials in animals and humans to meta-analyses. Here are 4 of them:
- The Abbasi study was a human clinical trial using a crossover design. People ate high carbs for 2 weeks, then low carbs for 2 weeks, with a washout period of 2 weeks in between. The high-carb diet doubled TG levels, tripled remnant cholesterol, and lowered HDL by 15% .
- The Wang study is a randomized clinical trial in laboratory mice .
- The Volek study is a meta-analysis. It reviews pre-2005 studies which had already shown that low-carb diets decrease triglycerides and remnant cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol level .
- The Ebbeling study was also a human subjects clinical trial. It was done at Harvard. Subjects on a low-carb diet had lower TG and higher HDL cholesterol. Also, researchers showed that low-carb diets were less likely to result in weight rebound due to improved energy expenditure and leptin .
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What Can You Do To Lower High Triglyceride Levels
Because your body can get triglycerides from the food you eat, it makes sense that changing your diet can help if you’re concerned with your triglyceride levels. In general, according to Ash, it’s important to reduce your intake of refined flour, processed and packaged foods that contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and excess carbs and sugars that are bad news for your health.
One key nutrient to keep in mind is fat. According to Ash, switching out the types of fat you eat can make a huge difference. “Trans fats and polyunsaturated fats, like the fat in canola oil, are going to be the biggest offenders because they burden the liver, which is going to manufacture more triglycerides in order to make more LDL. So what we’re eating and how we’re supporting the liver is really what’s going to matter when it comes to triglycerides,” she says.
That said, fat is only one factor to consider when it comes to food. “Specific to food, fat itself is often not the culprit,” says registered dietitian Amanda Archibald, founder of The Genomic Kitchen. “Excess calories from alcohol or starchy/sugary foods are often more complicit in producing high triglycerides.”
If your doctor has told you your triglyceride levels are on the high side, it’s worth asking them what foods to avoid and what lifestyle changes could help. Chances are, you’ll want to exercise more and go easy on trans fats and simple carbs.
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When To Get Tested
Screening: as part of a lipid profile during a regular medical exam at least once every four to six years for adults for children, at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21
Monitoring: may be done more frequently if you have risk factors for heart disease and/or if you are being treated for unhealthy lipid levels
Understanding The Test Results
A full lipid profile can be an important part of your childs health information. It shows the levels of each type of fat in the blood. These include LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. Your child’s doctor can tell you what the results should be for your child. In general, healthy levels are:
LDL of less than 130 mg/dL
HDL of greater than 35 mg/dL
Some children and teens have families with high cholesterol or early heart disease. In these cases, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute advises these levels for cholesterol:
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How To Control High Cholesterol Levels In Blood
High cholesterol levels in blood can be controlled by,
- Consuming a healthy diet rich in whole grain, oatmeals, leafy vegetables, fruits
- Cutting down excessive refined fats modified carbohydrates and unsaturated oils
- Regular exercises
- Cholesterol lowering drugs-Statins, according to medical advice
Structure of LDL receptor family members
How Can Triglyceride Levels Be Lowered
If your triglyceride levels are high, the next step is for your doctor to check for potential causes. Certain medications, thyroid function issues, poorly controlled diabetes, liver or kidney disease can all cause triglyceride levels to be higher than normal.
The first steps in treatment to lower triglyceride levels include eating a healthy diet, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and aerobic exercise on a regular basis.
To lower your triglyceride levels, your diet should be:
- low in fats
- low in simple carbohydrates
- low in alcohol
If you have high triglycerides and low HDL or high LDL levels, you may need to take medication along with making lifestyle changes. If your triglyceride levels are in the very high range you are at risk to develop other medical problems, so you will most likely need to take medication.
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Should My Child Have A Blood Lipid Test
A lipid screening is a test to look at the levels of the fats in the blood. In the past, doctors felt that children and teens were not at risk for high cholesterol levels. But we now know that children and teens are at risk. This is due to things such as:
Being inactive from too much screen time and not enough exercise
High-fat or high-sugar diets
Family history of high cholesterol levels
Children and teens with high cholesterol are at higher risk for heart disease as adults. Keeping blood cholesterol levels in the normal range reduces this risk.
Ldl And Hdl: What Are Triglycerides
Triglycerides are chemical compounds digested by the body to provide it with the energy for metabolism. Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. They are the main ingredient in vegetable oils and animal fats.
The triglyceride molecule is a form of the chemical glycerol that contains three fatty acids. To be absorbed, these parts are broken apart in the small intestine, and afterwards are reassembled with cholesterol to form chylomicrons. This is the source of energy for cells in the body. Fat cells and liver cells are used as storage sites and release chylomicrons when the body needs the energy.
Elevated triglyceride levels are a risk factor for atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries with the buildup of fatty plaques that may lead to heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Markedly elevated triglyceride levels may also cause fatty liver disease and pancreatitis.
Certain diseases and conditions may cause elevated triglyceride blood levels, for example:
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