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Lower your cholesterol

LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL

Even with these new ideas that inflammation is the cause of heart disease, cholesterol, and its constituents still account for heart problems in most cases. So this time, we’ll discuss what you can do if your lipid level test results exceed optimal levels. We’ll start by looking at how to lower your cholesterol without pills.

However, before getting down to this fascinating topic, let’s remember what problem we are solving.

☝️ Heart disease is the main cause of death.

☝️ 3.9 million people die from heart attacks in Europe every year1. And the cause of heart disease is the inflammatory process.

This inflammatory process begins with an excessive amount of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) particles appearing on the walls of the coronary arteries and causing subsequent oxidation. In turn, HDL particles (“good” cholesterol) reduce the risk of heart disease. So, they move excess LDL back to the liver and thus prevent inflammation and oxidation. We already discussed this topic in our article about the lipid profile.

There is yet another independent risk factor for heart disease: triglyceride (unbound fat) levels. Excessive amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates in the diet, as well as alcohol abuse, are common causes of elevated triglyceride levels.

How then can you lower your cholesterol? The first step to normalizing your cholesterol and triglyceride levels is following a healthy diet.

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How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Removing trans fats

There are two main types of trans fats in food: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats. Let’s figure it out. Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the guts of some animals. Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids), on the other hand, are created in an industrial process. And for this, hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

It’s worth knowing that trans fats make us fatter than any other food with the same amount of calories. But that’s not all. Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that trans fats increase the amount of fat around the belly2. That happens not only because new fat is added, but also because fat from other areas moves to the abdominal area.

Of course, trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. So it is obvious that it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

This is why the American Heart Association recommends reducing foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. And in November 2013, the FDA tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils were no longer considered safe3. Therefore, it is recommended to choose foods where the trans fat content is 0. Let’s find out which foods can contain trans fats!

Unfortunately, trans fats can be found in many foods, such as donuts and pastries, cakes and pie crusts, cookies and frozen pizzas, margarine and other spreads. You can determine the amount of trans fat by looking at the Product Facts label. However, if “0 grams of trans fat” is indicated, it doesn’t mean that there are no trans fats there. According to the rules, they can still contain between 0 and less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. You can also identify trans fats by reading the ingredient list and looking for ingredients called “partially hydrogenated oils.”

Reducing saturated fat

There is nothing more important to a healthy heart than reducing your intake of trans and saturated fats. They are critical to the effectiveness of the diet. And none of the other nutrients in the diet raises LDL levels like saturated fat.

Foods high in saturated fats include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • fatty beef,
  • lamb,
  • pork,
  • poultry with skin,
  • foods containing coconut or palm oil
  • cakes and biscuits
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cream
  • hard cheeses
  • other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk

In addition, many baked goods and fried foods can contain high levels of saturated fats. Health advocates have repeatedly suggested the use of policy instruments to influence consumer behavior. For example, in 2011, Denmark even introduced a tax on saturated fat in food. But a year later, this tax was canceled, although studies have shown its effectiveness in changing consumer behavior4.

It should be said that a healthy body is able to maintain normal lipid levels, regardless of cholesterol intake. In other words, our liver does an excellent job of regulating blood cholesterol levels. However, if you passed the test and saw that you need to lower your cholesterol, then, probably, these mechanisms of cholesterol metabolism have begun to work incorrectly.

To prevent this problem, it is recommended to choose foods with less than 10% D.V* saturated fat per serving. The question naturally arises, what are the alternatives to saturated fats?

*For a 1,500-calorie diet, your daily DRI would be: Total fat: 33 to 58 grams. Saturated fat: No more than 15 grams. Cholesterol: No more than 200 to 300 grams.

What then to eat?

To get the nutrients you need, eat a diet that emphasizes:

  • fruits vegetables,
  • whole grains,
  • low-fat dairy products,
  • poultry, fish and nuts,
  • limiting red meat and sugary foods and drinks.
  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin. And cook them without adding saturated and trans fats.

You should replace foods high in saturated fat with foods high in monounsaturated and / or polyunsaturated fats. This means eating foods made with liquid vegetable oil, but not with tropical oils. It also means eating fish and nuts. You can also try replacing some of the meat you eat with beans or legumes.

Fruits and vegetables aren’t just good for reducing your intake of trans and saturated fats. Soluble fiber, most of which is found in fruits and vegetables, also inhibits fat absorption. And this helps to lower the level of bad cholesterol (LDL). It is useful enrich your menu with legumes, oats (oat bread, porridge, oat bran in smoothies, and bread crumbs), and ground flax seeds, which can be sprinkled on almost anything.

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Quit smoking

Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop a heart attack than non-smokers5. There are 4,000 toxic substances in tobacco and tobacco smoke, many of which accelerate the processes leading to heart attacks. Cigarette smoking significantly increases the overall level of inflammation in the body6 and dramatically affects the growth of free radicals that accelerate the oxidation of LDL7. In addition, smoking increases the heart rate (HR)8, which accelerates wear and tear on the arteries. We could go on, but we’d rather just recommend not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke.

Normalize weight

Being overweight is associated with a wide range of health problems, as well as several other risk factors for heart disease. Overweight is becoming a major factor in the development of metabolic syndrome9, type II diabetes, and hypertension10. Obesity significantly increases the risk of heart attacks, according to the extensive Framingham Study. Tens of thousands of people have been observed in this study for over 40 years11. But that’s not all! Being overweight is a major risk factor for increased inflammation in the body12. This is another argument for normalizing weight.

As we discussed above, optimal weight plays a key role in heart disease prevention. Meanwhile, losing even five kilograms of weight can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks. So, losing weight will help lower LDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. At the same time, it can help you raise your good HDL cholesterol levels.

One study found that adults who took part in a 12-week exercise program, had their LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 18 points and total cholesterol dropped by 26 points13.

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Exploring Food Supplements to Help Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Omega-3 & Fresh Fish

Certain food supplements may also have a positive effect on lipid profile recovery. So the 2017 study showed positive results when supplemented with omega-3 supplements14. At the same time, it was found that the best results were achieved in the group with fresh fish. So, people consumed 250 g farmed trout fish two times a week for dinner and lunch for 8 weeks. For omega-3s, the dosage was 2 g / day of omega-3 capsules. During the study, the total cholesterol levels dietary-fish group decreased by 53.84 mg / dL (12.7 mg / dL in omega-3 group).

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Meanwhile, the method of preparing fish does not play a role and it turns out to be more significant how much fish has consumed1516. And finally, fish is generally recommended as a part of a healthy diet and it is considered to be a key component of a cardio-protective diet17. Moreover, it is an important source of various nutrients, such as protein, n-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iodine, and selenium.

If you do plan on taking omega-3 fatty acids, please discuss this with your doctor. Especially if you are taking blood-thinning medications.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed contains considerable amounts of α-linolenic acid, phenolic compounds, and lignans, which each have the capacity to reduce circulating lipid concentrations18. So, a meta-analysis of sixty-two randomized controlled trials with a total of 3772 participants suggested that flaxseed supplementation can reduce total serum cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL in unhealthy subjects with high baseline lipids level19. At the same time, the addition of flaxseed is useful if you are already taking medications to normalize your lipid profile. In a study, participants took 28 g of flaxseed for 10 weeks.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Some other research has proven that adding alpha-lipoic acid can enhance lipid profile parameters, except HDL cholesterol levels20.

Calcium and Calcium+D

Positive results were achieved in the study of effects produced by calcium and calcium+D supplements on excess weight patients21. The results showed a decrease in triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice (RYR), also called red fermented rice or red mold rice, is used as a dietary supplement to lower cholesterol levels2223. It contains varying amounts of natural monacolin K, which is a structural homolog to lovastatin, and shows properties comparable to synthetic statins. So, the research demonstrated that red yeast rice might be able to reduce cardiac events and provide positive effects on cardiovascular outcomes in a fashion similar to that of prescription statin therapy.

The safety profile of RYR supplements is highly similar to that of statins24. That is why RYR is widely used in prescriptions, as well as an alternative medicine and a food supplement, in Asia, the United States, and European countries.

So, we have described natural ways to lower your cholesterol. Of course, there are effective drug treatments for lowering lipid levels. These include statins among others.

This article was last reviewed by Svetlana Baloban, Healsens, on January 24, 2020. This article was last modified on July 24, 2021.

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Source: ©️2019 Healsens B.V. All right reserve

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DASH Diet

DASH HEALTHY DIET TO STOP HYPERTENSION

There are many different diets that appear regularly, gathering numerous fans and followers around themselves. But despite this diversity, just a few of them have actually proven effective, including safety and possible side effects. And if the diet is not only required to reduce weight, but also prevent serious chronic diseases, then the choice becomes very small. In fact, only two eating plans, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet, are backed by extensive scientific evidence for health benefits, such as controlling blood pressure and preventing heart attacks and strokes. Today we will talk about DASH diet for treating hypertension.

Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet originated in the 1990s. The diet was created after researchers noticed that high blood pressure was much less common in people who followed a plant-based diet, such as vegans and vegetarians. To verify this observation, in 1992, the National Institute of Health (NIH) started funding several research projects to see if specific dietary interventions were useful in treating hypertension. So, people included in the study were advised to follow certain dietary suggestions and not to include any other lifestyle modifications. As a result, it was discovered that the dietary intervention alone was able to decrease systolic Blood Pressure by about 6 to 11 mm Hg1. That is to say, this effect was seen both in hypertensive as well as normotensive people. Based on these results, in some instances DASH has been advocated as the first-line pharmacologic therapy along with lifestyle modification.

Besides, U.S. News and World Report, evaluating the most popular diets annually, defines the DASH diet as the most effective among healthy diets.

In 2020, DASH diet took first place in the nomination of the Best Diets for Healthy Eating.

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DASH Diet is ranked:

What is DASH diet?

The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. It also advocates the reduction of sodium in the diet to about 1500 mg/day. And also it emphasizes on consumption of minimally processed and fresh food.

The DASH eating plan requires no special foods. So that a typical serving guide is as follows:

Vegetables: about 5 servings per day
Fruits: about 5 servings per day
Carbohydrates: about 7 servings per day
Low-fat dairy products: about 2 servings per day
Lean meat products: about 2 or fewer servings per day
Nuts and seeds: 2 to 3 times per week.

DASH Diet is balanced and can be followed long term, which is a key reason nutrition experts rank it as US News’ Best Overall Diet.

Getting Started on DASH Healthy Diet

Even small lifestyle changes made gradually can lead to significant health benefits.  

  1. Gradually begin making changes to your diet. For example, try adding one serving of vegetables to each meal.
  2. Introduce two or more meat-free meals each week.
  3. Use fresh fruit as a dessert and almonds or pecans instead of a bag of chips.
  4. When baking, use half the amount of butter or margarine that you would usually use.

People who want to get the most benefit from the DASH diet would have to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. This is a difficult task although effective in dealing with hypertension. For most other adults, the limit is 2,300 mg. Here are some tips on how to reduce your salt intake:

  1. Don’t add salt when cooking rice, pasta, and hot cereals.
  2. Flavor your foods with salt-free seasoning blends, fresh or dried herbs, and spices, or fresh lemon or lime juice.
  3. Rinse canned foods or foods soaked in brine before using them.
  4. Use less table salt

For more guidance, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute publishes free guides on the plan, including one (PDF here) that’s 20 pages and one (PDF here) that’s six. They’ll help you determine how many calories you should eat for your age and activity level, tell you where those calories should come from and remind you to consume less salt.

Learn more about DASH dietary guidelines

Carbohydrates and Fats

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the body. So, healthy carbohydrates included under DASH include:

  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, broccoli, spinach, collards, mustards
  • Whole grains: cracked wheat, millets, oats
  • Low glycemic index fruits
  • Legumes and beans
  • Good fats

Fats are used for energy after they are broken into fatty acids. You have probably heard about good and bad fats. Good fats prevent inflammation and promote overall health. These fats, when consumed in moderation, have shown an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering of small dense LDL particles. You can find some of the sources of good fats below:

Bad fats such as margarine, vegetable shortenings, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, cause an increase in small LDL particles, which is destructive to your blood vessels. Therefore, their consumption must be excluded.

Proteins

Proteins are natural organic substances consisting of amino acids and playing a fundamental role in the life of our bodies. DASH recommends more servings of plant proteins such as legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds. As for animal protein, it should be mainly composed of lean meats, low-fat dairy products, eggs, and fish.

Processed and canned meat is not recommended because it causes hypertension and also contains carcinogens.

In conclusion, we want to add that the DASH diet also includes foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. This is due to the fact that they prevent vascular wall pathology. Some of the potassium-rich foods included in the diet are bananas, oranges, and spinach. Dairy products and green leafy vegetables bring enough calcium to the body. And magnesium comes with the consumption of whole grains, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

DASH Diet Effects on Other Diseases

Several studies have shown that DASH diet helps lower blood glucose levels, triglycerides, LDL-C, and insulin resistance. This makes DASH diet a very important adjunct to pharmacological therapy in metabolic syndromes. It also has been a successful tool in weight management. Another research showed that adherence to the DASH diet has shown significant improvements in control of type 2 diabetes. It is also a preferred diet among patients with heart failure.

In addition, the DASH diet has also shown a reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer. Besides, numerous studies have proven DASH dieting to reduce general mortality from all causes.

To sum up, DASH can be a very useful tool to tackle hypertension more efficiently. When compared to some other dietery patterns, it has an added advantage of having clear guidelines on the serving sizes and food groups, which makes it easier for the physicians to make prescriptions and monitor their patients’ treatment2.

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Healthy Dash Diet Meal Plan

Many DASH-friendly recipes are easy to find, they are regularly published, and new ones are added constantly. For example, the NHLBI offers more than 180 heart-healthy recipes in its online database. You can also find useful the Mayo Clinic long lists of DASH-friendly recipes and review 26 simple tips on how to eat healthy.

Your daily sample menu may look like, for instance:

Breakfast

  • 3/4 cup bran flakes cereal
  • One cup low-fat milk or 1 cup fruit yogurt, fat-free, no sugar added
  • a medium raisin bagel
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • a cup of orange juice

Lunch

  • ham and cheese sandwich:
    • 2 oz ham, low-fat, low sodium
    • 1 slice (3/4 oz) natural cheddar cheese with reduced fat
    • 2 slices whole wheat bread
    • 1 large leaf romaine lettuce
    • 2 slices tomato
    • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise, low-fat
  • 1 cup carrot sticks

Snacks

  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup mixed, unsalted nuts
  • One cup fat-free milk

Dinner

  • 3 ounces grilled salmon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • Spinach salad with 1 cup raw spinach, 2 cherry tomatoes, 2 cucumber slices
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium, homemade vinaigrette salad dressing
  • One cup grape juice

It is based on a 2,000-calorie diet with 1,500 mg of sodium.

Unlock your health insights with our smart data analysis – the Free Health Tracker app, your reliable medical record!

Drastically reduce the time to detect chronic diseases & inspire healthy habits



FURTHER READING

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Source: ©️2019 Healsens B.V. All right reserve

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