Decrease Cholesterol Naturally
Cholesterol is one of the important substances in our body. The liver is mainly utilizing it to facilitate fat digestion. It is needed in the production of bile, which is the vital substance for fat digestion. However, there are limitations imposed for this cholesterol. It is important to have this cholesterol monitored because having high amounts in the body is already dangerous. This condition risks a person’s health by acquiring various cardiovascular diseases such as Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) or stroke and Myocardial Infarction.
The normal value for total cholesterol in our body is <200 mg/dl. Of this total cholesterol we prefer the LDL (low density lipoprotein) to be <100, the HDL (high density lipoprotein, the good protective lipoproteins) to be >45. We also prefer the triglycerides to be <120.
There are various natural means of decreasing cholesterol levels especially for those who have high levels in their body. Artificially prepared drugs are present in the market; however, some people find they cannot tolerate them as they can cause different unwanted side effects such as nausea, vomiting or other more serious complications. Using natural means of treatment is your way to avoid the side effects of commercial products.
The natural means of decreasing cholesterol levels is basically through the diet. Ironically, this is where the increase in cholesterol usually starts. Faulty diet is the main origin of high cholesterol, however; there are many cases wherein genetics may be involved.
Other natural ways to lower cholesterol levels include Carnitine, exercise and higher doses of niacin (250mg up to 4000mg in a slowly increasing dose) can increase (HDL) High Density Lipoprotein levels in the body. HDL is known as the good cholesterol and these agents can actually reduce the levels of cholesterol in the body. Foods rich in L-Carnitine include red meats (especially beef), milk, cheese, and yogurt. Based on research, Coenzyme Q10 has the capacity to reduce total blood cholesterol. CoQ10 occurs in mackerel and herring, white meats like chicken leg. Fiber is another cholesterol decreasing substance obtained mainly from fiber-rich foods such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables. The mechanism of action for fiber is its capacity to bind to small cholesterol molecules, particularly LDL or the bad cholesterol, and carry it to elimination from the body upon defecation. It also prevents absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream thus reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood as well. Taking Omega-3 oils containing EPA + DHA and vitamin D are other ways to decrease the LDL levels. Omega-3 oil capsules or liquid are readily available and can be taken up to 3000 mg daily. These should be taken at bedtime since genetically induced cholesterol is produced while you are sleeping. Vitamin D has been shown to be deficient in most people and we should be taking from 1000mg to 5000mg daily on a regular basis.
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may put you on cholesterol-lowering medication. But even if he does, pay special attention to the tips in this article. Because research suggests that by eating the right foods, getting enough exercise, and generally taking good care of yourself, you could slash your risk of dying from heart disease by an incredible 80 percent.
Donna Barsky holds a Doctorate of Pharmacology and is a Registered Pharmacist with TexasStar Pharmacy in Plano. She may be reached at 972-519-8575
Eighteen Diet Tips
1. Drink two glasses of orange juice every morning. But make it Minute Maid’s Heart Wise or any brand “spiked” with the same kind of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols found in margarine spreads like Benecol.
Researchers at the University of California-Davis asked 72 men and women with mildly high cholesterol to drink either Heart Wise or regular OJ. Those drinking the sterol-fortified juice found their total cholesterol levels dropped 7% (an average of 13 points) and levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol dropped 13% (an average of 8 points). Those who drank regular juice had no changes. Another study, this one from the University of Western Ontario, found that three glasses a day of orange juice (any orange juice) for four weeks raised HDL levels 21% and improved the ratio by 16% of good to bad cholesterol.
2. Eat six or more small meals a day.
A large study of British adults found that people who ate six or more times a day had significantly lower cholesterol than those who ate twice a day, even though the “grazers” got more calories and fat. In fact, the differences in cholesterol between the two groups were large enough to reduce the grazers’ risk of coronary heart disease 10-20%. Just make sure those six meals are truly small.
3. Drink a glass of wine every evening with dinner.
Studies find a daily glass of wine or beer a day can boost levels of HDL cholesterol. Make the wine a red one as red wines are 3-10 times higher in plant compounds called saponins, believed to be responsible for much of wine’s beneficial effects on cholesterol.
4. Fix all your sandwiches on whole grain bread.
Cutting back on simple carbs like white bread and eating more complex carbs, like whole grain bread and brown rice, can increase HDL levels slightly and significantly lower triglycerides, another type of blood fat that contributes to heart disease.
5. Use paper filters when brewing your coffee and skip the espresso.
Two substances found in brewed coffee, kahweol and cafestol, increase cholesterol levels. But paper filters trap these compounds, so they’re only a problem if you drink espresso or use coffeemakers without filters.
6. Use olive oil in your homemade salad dressing tonight.
A Baylor College of Medicine study found that diets rich in the kind of monounsaturated fat found in olive oil reduced LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome—a cluster of risk factors including low HDL, high insulin levels, and overweight—just as well as following a low-fat diet.
7. Sip a cup of black tea every four hours.
Government scientists found that three weeks of drinking five cups a day of black tea reduced cholesterol levels in people with mildly high levels.
8. Add half a tablespoon of cinnamon to your coffee beans (ground or whole) before starting the pot.
A Pakistani study found that 6 grams cinnamon a day (about 1/2 tablespoon) reduced LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes nearly 30% and cut total cholesterol 26 percent.
9. Have oatmeal for breakfast every morning.
There’s a reason oat manufacturers are allowed to boast about the grain’s cholesterol-lowering benefits: Plenty of research has proven oats rich in a soluble fiber called beta glucan. Oatmeal can drop your LDL 12-24% if you eat 1 1/2 cups regularly. Choose quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats over instant.
10. Have a few glasses of cranberry juice every day (cut it with seltzer or water so you get less sugar or buy pure, unsweetened).
Cranberries are rich sources of anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins which are plant chemicals that prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. (Oxidation makes LDL more likely to stick to artery walls.) These chemicals also keep red blood cells from getting too sticky. An added bonus: They initiate a complex chemical reaction that helps blood vessels relax. Plus (the part you were waiting for) they decrease LDL cholesterol levels. Not only that, but University of Scranton researchers reported that three glasses of cranberry juice a day can raise HDL levels up to 10 percent.
11. Eat a grapefruit every other day.
Grapefruits are particularly high in pectin, a soluble fiber that can help reduce cholesterol levels. Grapefruits interfere with the absorption of several medications, however, so check with your doctor first. Other good sources of pectin include apples and berries. However, this is a bad idea if you are taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Grapefruit can increase the levels of statins in the blood stream and increase muscle weakness.
12. Use honey in your tea instead of sugar, and honey instead of jam on PB&J sandwiches.
A study from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates found total and LDL cholesterol levels dropped in healthy people after they drank a solution containing honey, but not after they drank solutions containing glucose or artificial honey. After 15 days of the honey drink, participants’ HDL levels rose and homocysteine levels dropped. Homocysteine is an amino acid linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease (reduced blood flow to the hands and feet).
13. Pop edamame as a snack.
Just half a cup contains nearly 4 grams fiber, not to mention the soy isoflavones in these soybeans. Consumption of both has been linked to lower cholesterol. Edamame are now available in the frozen food section of the supermarket.
14. Pour soy milk over your morning cereal.
A Spanish study of 40 men and women found that those who drank about two cups of soy milk a day for three months reduced their LDL cholesterol levels an average of eight points and increased their HDL levels an average of four points. Just make sure you buy soy milk fortified with calcium.
15. Whip up a batch of guacamole this evening.
Several studies find that eating one avocado a day as part of a healthy diet can lower your LDL as much as 17% while raising your HDL.
16. Spend 10 minutes a day doing strength-training exercises.
You don’t have to do these at a gym—push-ups, squats, leg lifts, hip extensions—they all count. And they count when it comes time to count your cholesterol levels: A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that strength training lowered total cholesterol 10% and LDL cholesterol 14% among women who worked out for 45-50 minutes three times a week. If you can’t manage that amount, start with 10 minutes a day, six days a week, and gradually work up.
17. Have a glass of purple grape juice every day.
Rich in cholesterol-lowering flavonoids, grape juice is the perfect drink, particularly if you don’t like red wine.
18. Spread your bagel with Benecol, not butter.
This cholesterol-lowering spread contains sterols, natural plant compounds that block your body’s absorption of the cholesterol in the foods you eat.
If you have any concerns or questions about your risks, be sure to ask your doctor or call the pharmacy for recommendations. TexasStar Pharmacy can be reached at 972-519-8475.