Ldl Cholesterol: How Low Can You Go
- By Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD, Contributor
Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is a clearly established risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease . Lowering LDL with medications and/or lifestyle changes has been shown to lower CVD risk. Just how far to lower LDL, however, has remained controversial.
Current guidelines developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and several other professional organizations recommend lowering elevated LDL levels to 70 milligrams per deciliter in people with high-risk CVD. However, recent studies have suggested that CVD risk may continue to drop as LDL is lowered beyond these targets, leading some cardiologists to believe that our current guidelines are not aggressive enough. Others are concerned that lowering LDL too much may lead to harm.
Lower Ldl Levels Are Better
In a JAMA editorial accompanying the study, Christopher P. Cannon, MD, of Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote that aggressive LDL lowering is the ideal lower is better.
The JAMA studys findings echo those of another large 4,162-patient study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It concluded that LDL cholesterol levels of 62 were even better than levels of 95 at preventing death, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular-related problems in people with heart disease.
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol By Making Lifestyle Changes
You can lower your cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes, and through taking medicines if that’s what your doctor advises. Some people will only need to improve their lifestyle and diet to get their cholesterol to a safe level. Others may need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines, as well.
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Study Suggests Lower Ldl Cholesterol Is Better
A recent meta-analysis published in JAMA Cardiology suggests that it is both safe and effective to lower LDL below 70 mg/dL. The authors reviewed a large database of CVD patients with LDL levels averaging 70 mg/dL or less at the start of the studies. On average, there was a 20% drop in CVD risk seen for every 39 mg/dL drop in LDL cholesterol. In other words, a drop in LDL from 70 mg/dL down to 31 mg/dL was associated with 20% fewer CVD events such as heart attack or stroke.
The benefit was consistent regardless of the medications used to lower cholesterol. The JAMA Cardiology meta-analysis looked at studies in which LDL was lowered with a statin drug, which works by lowering LDL production in the liver, or with a different type of medication, including ezetimibe , which interferes with absorption of LDL from the intestine, or PCSK9 inhibitors, newer injectable medicines that increase uptake of LDL from the bloodstream into the liver. The drop in CVD risk was in line with previous studies of patients who started with LDL levels around 130 mg/dL, and saw a drop in CVD events of about 22% for every 39 mg/dL drop in LDL.
In this study, there was no increased risk of adverse outcomes , even when LDL was lowered to as low as 20 mg/dL. Although statin medications themselves have been linked to side effects, especially at high doses, it appears that extremely low LDL concentrations are not responsible for side effects.
Red Wine Or Grapes: A Toast To Resveratrol
A plant-based chemical known as resveratrol, found in the red grapes used to make red wine, can help to lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol. It also appears to protect against coronary artery disease, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, a glass of red wine with a meal can help prevent the constriction of blood vessels that can follow a fatty meal and lead to atherosclerosis and heart attack.
If you don’t drink, don’t start now. You can get resveratrol from red, black, and purple grapes, and from blueberries, cranberries, and even peanut butter. If you do drink alcohol, limit your consumption of red wine to one or two 5 oz glasses a day.
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What Is Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber provides the greatest heart-health benefits. It helps lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by binding to bile in the gut and removing it with the body’s waste. Bile is made up of cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include:
- Oats and oat bran.
- Apples, bananas, pears and citrus fruits.
- Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, squash.
What Are Trans Fatty Acids
Trans fatty acids are formed when a liquid fat is changed into a solid fat through a process called hydrogenation. Many manufacturers use hydrogenated fats in their ingredients because it creates a product with an extended shelf life and better consistency.
Trans fatty acids are especially bad for you. They raise the levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood and lower the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
There are currently no safe levels of trans fat to consume each day, so avoid them completely or eat them as little as possible.
Many manufacturers have stopped using or greatly reduced the amount of trans fats in their foods. But, check the label and avoid:
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How Can Foods Help Lower Cholesterol
People can often reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterolfound in meat, dairy products, and eggsraise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk. Foods high in saturated fat are especially dangerous because they can trigger the body to produce extra cholesterol.
Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.
It is important to continue to work closely with your health care provider to monitor your health and manage medications, even as you make dietary changes.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Physical activity increases levels of HDL cholesterol the good cholesterol that removes LDL cholesterol from the blood. Vigorous aerobic exercise is best.
If you havent been exercising much lately, gradually build up to the recommended amount of physical activity:
- People aged 18-64 years should do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
- People aged 65 years and over should aim for a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days .
Moderate-intensity exercise is a level that increases your heart rate and breathing but allows you to keep talking. Vigorous intensity exercise makes your heart rate higher and makes you breathe more heavily.
Resistance training and muscle-toning exercises can increase HDL cholesterol. Aim to do this twice a week.
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People Have A Right To Love Avocados
Avocado toast, anyone? Theres a reason why everyones 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 bodys 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.
Cakes Cookies And Many Other Baked Goods
While it seems counter-intuitive at first that baked goods should raise cholesterol, its obvious when you think about the ingredients typically used to make cookies and cakes. Theyre primarily made of animal-derived products eggs, cheese, milk, cream and so on.
There are, however, certain cookies on the market which are made with ingredients specifically designed for high cholesterol sufferers, which wont have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels and may even contribute to raising your good cholesterol.
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Is The Portfolio Diet Right For Me
Recent research from Toronto University has shown that the Portfolio Diet can improve blood pressure, decreasing inflammation and reduce the 10-year risk of heart disease. However, people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs were excluded from the original study, so it is not known whether the diet could produce the same level of cholesterol reduction in those on medication.
Cholesterol Diet: What Foods Should You Eat To Reduce Cholesterol Levels
It is important to tweak your food habits in order to stay fit and healthy. There are some foods that can actually help in lowering bad cholesterol levels and improving good cholesterol levels in the body. Certain foods also help in detoxing your Body and flushing out unwanted fats floating in your bloodstream that may contribute to the plaque build-up. Here are some healthy foods that you can include in your cholesterol diet as suggested by Delhi based Nutritionist Mehar Rajput:
- Fenugreek seeds Fenugreek or methi seeds have a high fiber content and offer multiple health benefits. These seeds inhibit the accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Fenugreek or methi seeds have a high fiber content and offer multiple health benefits
- Nuts Nuts, especially almonds and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that help in reducing the level of bad cholesterol and maintain heart health.
Nuts, especially almonds and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E
- Oats Oats have high amounts of soluble fiber that prevents plaque formation, further helping with smooth blood circulation.
Oats have high amounts of soluble fiber
- Garlic Garlic contains a bioactive component known as Allicin that helps reduce blood lipids and prevents the formation of plaque. One clove every day in the morning can help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol.
Garlic contains a bioactive component known as Allicin
Cholesterol Diet plan by Nutritionist Mehar Rajput
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A Guide To Healthy Eating: Strategies Tips And Recipes To Help You Make Better Food Choices
Eat real food. Thats the essence of todays nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvards Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices describes how to eat for optimum health.
Other Tips On High Cholesterol Foods
You may eliminate a bunch of high cholesterol foods and get onto a low cholesterol diet and stick with it religiously, only to sabotage yourself through things that you dont typically think of as food.
Drinking alcohol is a classic example of this. Many people tend to leave their alcohol consumption out of their diet tracking.
This is a mistake, especially if youre trying to restrict your cholesterol intake.
Once again moderation is key with things like alcohol.
Many studies have showed moderate alcohol consumption has a positive effect on cholesterol levels, but binge drinking and excessive consumption has the opposite effect and puts you at greater risk of a vast number of health problems.
Moderate consumption according to many experts is around one glass of wine per day, maximum.
With careful planning its relatively easy to significantly reduce the amount of cholesterol you take in, while still being able to enjoy your favorite high cholesterol foods in moderation.
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Start Your Day With Grains
Swap granola, energy bars and breakfast cereals for whole grains to bring your cholesterol down. Whole wheat, oats, rye, wild rice and other whole grains are packed with fiber and contain little or no saturated fat. One cup of oats, for instance, boasts 16.5 grams of fiber and large doses of phosphorus, magnesium, iron and B vitamins. These nutrients promote cardiovascular and metabolic health.
According to a 2015 review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, whole grains especially oats reduce total and LDL cholesterol, but not HDL cholesterol. Even though their hypocholesterolemic effect is lower than that of statins and other drugs, it still matters. A 1 percent reduction in cholesterol levels can lower coronary heart disease risk by as much as 3 percent.
Researchers attribute these benefits to the fiber in grains. Oat and barley, for example, are rich in beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been frequently shown to reduce blood lipids. The study also suggests that calorie restriction can help maximize these beneficial effects.
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.
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What Diet Is Best For Lowering Cholesterol
Studies have found that plant-based diets lower cholesterol levels more effectively than other diets. In 2017, researchers reviewed 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets to test their effects on cholesterol. Plant-based diets lowered total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels when compared to omnivorous diets. Low-fat, plant-based regimens typically reduce LDL levels by about 15 to 30 percent.
Some recommendations for lowering cholesterol still include consuming chicken and fish. However, a number of studies have shown that heart disease patients who continue to eat these foods still tend to get worse over time. Those who adopt a low-fat, plant-based diet, get daily exercise, avoid tobacco, and manage stress have the best chance of reversing heart disease.
Foods To Avoid If You Have High Cholesterol
Heres a list of the 15 worst foods to eat if you have high cholesterol.
Most of us love to eat. It can be one of our favorite pastimes, munching on an assortment of delicious, delectable delights.
When were younger we usually never think about the harm certain foods can cause us. Try telling a teenager who comes home from school starving that eating an entire McDonalds Get McDonalds Corporation Report Big Mac, then topping it off with an ice cream sundae, isnt the healthiest of choices.
As we get older, however, we have to start monitoring the things we eat, as some foods can aggravate existing health conditions or bring on new ones.
High cholesterol and heart disease are serious concerns for many people, and as much as wed love to continue our teenage habits of eating anything and everything in sight, when diagnosed with these conditions, monitoring what we eat becomes a top priority.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance thats found in all cells of the body, the National Heart Long and Blood Institute says. The body needs cholesterol to produce hormones, Vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. Your body will make enough of the cholesterol it needs to perform these functions, but some of the foods you eat can add to your cholesterol levels, and too much can lead to health issues, the National Heart Long and Blood Institute added.
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Saturated And Unsaturated Fat
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- cakes and biscuits
- foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels.
Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with small amounts of foods high in unsaturated fats, such as:
- oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
- nuts such as almonds and cashews
- seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oils and spreads such as rapeseed or vegetable oil, sunflower, olive, corn and walnut oils
Curb Cholesterol Not Flavor
Itâs no secret that certain foods can help you lower your LDL cholesterol, which causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries that leads to heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. But what may surprise you is that many of these foods are delicious and easy to incorporate into your everyday meals without sacrificing flavor or fun.
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What Exactly Is Cholesterol
Despite its association with health problems, cholesterol is something the body needs. Cholesterol is necessary to make certain hormones. Its involved in making vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Cholesterol also plays a role in making some of the substances required to digest food.
Cholesterol travels in the blood in the form of lipoproteins, which are tiny molecules of fat wrapped in protein. There are two major types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein .
LDL is sometimes referred to as bad cholesterol. This is because its the kind of cholesterol that can clog your arteries. HDL, or the good cholesterol, helps bring LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream to the liver. From the liver, the excess LDL cholesterol is removed from the body.
The liver plays another key role in cholesterol. Most of your cholesterol is made in your liver. The rest comes from the food you eat. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal food sources, such as eggs, meat, and poultry. Its not found in plants.