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Natural ways to lower cholesterol

Heart | November 8, 2016 | Author: Naturopath

Blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease

Natural ways to lower cholesterol

According to The Heart Foundation, heart disease affects around 1.4 million Australians, and is Australia’s leading single cause of death. On average, one Australian dies as a result of heart disease every 27 minutes. In the last 10-15 years cholesterol has become a household word, and high cholesterol is now a universally accepted warning sign for heart disease by medical professionals, though it is not the only risk factor. Other risk factors for heart disease include age, gender, ethnic background, and family history, as well as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and depression.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is fatty substance that is carried around your body with your blood. Most of the cholesterol in your body is made in the liver, but cholesterol is also present in animal-based food, including meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Plant food contains no cholesterol!

Is it all Bad? No. Cholesterol is needed to make steroid hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol. It's needed to make bile salts, a necessary component for digestion of fats, and it allows liquids and gases to go in and out of a cell's membrane. It also helps make vitamin D.

Types of Cholesterol

High density lipoprotein (HDL) is often called ‘good' cholesterol. It helps carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is processed.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as ‘bad' cholesterol. Too much may leave fatty deposits (plaque) on the lining of arteries, causing blockages and leading to cardiovascular disease.

Studies have suggested that newer tests looking at LDL particle size and HDL particle size are more predictive in assessing cardiovascular risk.

Signs & Symptoms

Unfortunately, there are no symptoms associated directly with high cholesterol. However, chronic (long term) high cholesterol can build up in the walls of your arteries, and can block blood flow through the artery to the heart, which would then, of course, produce symptoms. Signs of high cholesterol include increased levels of low density lipoprotein levels (LDL). Additional signs may include low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL).

Standard Treatment to Lower Cholesterol

Standard medical treatment includes cholesterol-lowering medications, most commonly statin class of drugs. These drugs block the production of cholesterol in the body and can be quite effective in lowering LDL cholesterol quickly.

Reducing Cholesterol

A healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol. There are a number of dietary approaches for the managing cholesterol levels.

Low saturated fats. Numerous studies demonstrate that replacement of saturated fat with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olives) reduces LDL cholesterol.

The heart Foundation recommends lowering dietary saturated fat intake to no more than 7% of energy intake. Sources of saturated fats include meat (lamb, pork, fatty beef, processed meats, chicken with skin), dairy products such as whole-fat milk, cream, butter, lard, hard cheese, many baked goods and fried foods, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut products - oil, cream and milk.

Also limiting your trans-fats intake. You will most likely find trans fat in margarine, shortening, baked products, including pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and buns, and deep fried foods.

Additional recommendations by the American heart Association includea dietary pattern that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats”.

Mediterranean-style diet

This incorporates abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fatty fish, lean meat, skim or low-fat dairy products, and sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, including olive, canola oil, nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts), and soft margarine spreads. 
Plant-based diets.

Plant-base diets (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts) have been promoted for their heart-healthy benefits.

A meta analysis of 11 studies demonstrated that vegetarian diets significantly lowered blood concentrations of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol

What about Eggs?

In a healthy balanced diet low in saturated fat, individuals can consume up to six eggs per week without adversely affecting cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Specific Foods

Oats. Oats contain a form of soluble fibre called oat beta-glucan, which is particularly concentrated in the outer layers of the grain, and can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Food standard agencies worldwide have approved the cholesterol-lowering effects of oat products. A recent meta-analysis of 28 studies found that oat beta-glucan in doses of 3 g or more per day reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by 0.25 mmol/L and total cholesterol by 0.30 mmol/L, without changing HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. This can be achieved by eating 1½ cups of cooked oatmeal or 75 g of rolled oats. 

Barley. Barley, too, contains beta-glucan. 1 cup of cooked pearl barley contains approximately 2.5 g of beta-glucans.

Fish. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Although omega-3 fatty acids do not significantly affect cholesterol levels, evidence suggests that eating two servings of fatty fish weekly (such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines) reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Nuts. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, which according to studies reduce LDL cholesterol by 5% to 10%. The recommended amount is about ¼ cup daily.

Olive oil. Another source of monounsaturated fats, olive oil and olives are the key dietary fats of the heart-healthy traditional Mediterranean Diet. 

Plant sterols. Studies have demonstrated that supplementation of plant sterols into the diet decreases total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in patients with high levels of blood cholesterol by up to 15%.

The Heart Foundation recommends that adults consume 2 to 3 grams of plant sterols per day from plant sterol enriched foods, which include margarine spreads, breakfast cereal, low-fat yoghurt and low-fat milk. Note that margarines contain trans-fats, which increase LDL and decrease HDL.

Avocados. Additional research is still needed, but avocados may lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

Flaxseeds. Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-derived type of omega-3 fats, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your breakfast cereal or mix into yoghurt.

Psyllium. A soluble dietary fibre, which has shown to modestly reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

For maximum effect consume regularly for a minimum of eight weeks. Use cautiously with blood thinners.

Soy. Studies demonstrate that adding soy protein to the diet can moderately decrease blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. However, this still remains controversial due to conflicting results.

Green tea. Two cups of green tea per day can reduce LDL cholesterol, as demonstrated in human trials.

Nutritional Supplements

Beta-glucan. As mentioned, beta-glucan is a soluble fibre derived from the cell walls of algae, bacteria, fungi, yeast, and plants, such as oats and barley. Sprinkle beta-glucan powder on your breakfast cereal or add to beverages.

Niacin. Also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3, Niacin can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 10-20%, reduce triglycerides by 20-50%, and raise HDL cholesterol levels by 15-35%. Possible side effect include flushing or hot flashes, Blood pressure may also be reduced while taking niacin, and it can also cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, indigestion, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and the irritation of peptic ulcers. Consult your doctor if considering taking Niacin.

Pantethine. The active form of pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5. Studies have shown reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, however the maximum improvement may not be evident for at least four months. Pantethine should not be taken with blood thinners or by people with bleeding disorders.

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil). To reduce your overall risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that patients with heart disease consume 1 g of EPA + DHA per day.

Garlic. Numerous studies have shown small reductions in total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol with use of garlic over short periods of time (4-12 weeks) at doses of 600 to 900 mg per day, however the results have been inconsistent.

Red yeast rice. Red yeast rice is a fermented product of rice and has been shown to lower blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  The recommended dose is 2400 mg to 4800 mg, but it should be taken under the supervision of a doctor.

Probiotics. Long-term consumption of oral probiotics is associated with a modest but significant reduction in blood cholesterol. Consume a high quality road spectrum probiotic on a daily basis.

Curcumin. The active ingredient of turmeric, curcumin has been shown to lower cholesterol. Larger studies are still needed to confirm its benefits and appropriate dosage. 

Tocotrienols. Tocotrienols are a family of vitamin E that include alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. The gamma and delta tocotrienols lower total cholesterol by up to 17%, and LDL cholesterol by 24%. The recommended dose is 200 mg of gamma delta tocotrienol at night with food.

Bergamot. Small studies have shown that this citrus extract in doses of 1000 mg per day, an lower LDL cholesterol up to 36% and increase HDL cholesterol by 40%.

Coenzyme Q-10. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant. People with high cholesterol tend to have lower levels of CoQ10, so CoQ10 has been proposed as a treatment for high cholesterol, but scientific studies are lacking. The use of statins, cholesterol-lowering medications, reduce natural levels of CoQ10 in the body, so taking CoQ10 supplements can bring levels back to normal. Additionally, CoQ10 may reduce the muscle pain associated with statin treatment.

Lifestyle Interventions

Weight management. Losing weight (loss of total body and visceral fat) can have dramatic effects on your cholesterol levels.

Physical activity. Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days) can help raise HDL and lower LDL levels.

Quit smoking.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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