Changing your eating habits can have a significant impact on reducing high cholesterol levels. In short; eat less saturated and trans fats.
Dyslipidemia refers to abnormal blood lipid (fat) levels. Blood lipids include triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.
When levels of these fats are abnormal or disturbed patients are at risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke and a number of other disorders.
The most common types of dyslipidemia patients can present with (either alone or in combination) are:
High LDL: low-density lipoproteins (LDL’s) transport cholesterol and triglycerides away from cells and tissues that produce cholesterol (e.g., liver), towards cells and tissues which are taking up cholesterol and triglycerides (e.g., peripheral tissues, muscles, nerves, etc).
When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up on the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances LDL can form plaques, thick, hard deposits that can clog the arteries.
This is why cholesterol inside LDL lipoproteins is called bad cholesterol. The risk of having a heart attack or stroke rises directly as a person’s LDL cholesterol level increases.
Low HDL: high-density lipoproteins (HDL’s) carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s excreted via the hepatobiliary excretion route.
HDL also removes excess cholesterol from plaques in arteries, thus slowing the progress of cardiovascular disease.
This is why HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol levels increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.
High Triglycerides: triglycerides are fats that contain a glycerol molecule attached to three fatty acids. These fats come from foods and are also made endogenously by the liver. The fat stored in the body is predominantly made from triglycerides.
LDL carries triglycerides from the liver into the peripheral tissues and deposits it there; HDL carries it from the peripheries back to the liver for excretion.
For this reason, hypertriglyceridemia is commonly associated with high LDL and low HDL levels. High blood triglyceride levels are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
To substantially lower your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack, the HDL (good) levels should compose about one-third of your total cholesterol. Many people fall short of that mark.
The average Australian gets only about 20 percent of their cholesterol level from HDL. It is never too late to start making simple changes for better cardiovascular and heart health.
Saturated fats are solid to semi-solid at room temperature and include the fats in meat, dairy products (eg. cream, cheese butter), and are commonly added to processed foods. Most saturated fats stimulate LDL (bad) production in the body.
Health wise, saturated fats can raise the level of blood cholesterol, so by reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet can lower your LDL levels.
On the other hand, unsaturated fats, which tend to be liquid at room temperature, include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Olive, peanut, and sesame are rich in monounsaturated fats, while soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, and fish oils are high in polyunsaturated fats.
In contrast to LDL-raising saturated fats, both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats have some ability to lower LDL.
Trans fats are modifications of unsaturated fats, which have been chemically altered to improve their physical characteristics.
Trans fats were introduced to food production around 50 years ago and they were considered marvelous due to their ability to convert a liquid oil into a solid spread; margarines and shortenings.
It is best to avoid trans fats as they have been shown to raise LDL and lower HDL levels in the blood. These fats are a greater risk to heart health than even saturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats do not undergo modification, and when substituted for saturated fats, can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats – for example, using olive oil instead of
butter – is one way to improve a wayward lipid profile, as long as you aren’t just adding monounsaturated fats and forgetting to cut back on the saturated fats.
Some Basic Foods To Include In Your Daily Regime Should Be:
Fibre: fresh salads and uncooked vegetables (organic where possible).
A diet high in fresh fruit, vegetables, essential fatty acids and lean protein sources provides essential phytonutrients, antioxidants, magnesium and helps to control inflammatory processes in the blood vessels.
Maintaining dietary fibre is an important part of dietary management of dyslipidemia. Water soluble fibres, taken with adequate water, swell in the stomach to create a sensation of fullness which helps reduce appetite.
They also help prevent cholesterol absorption from the gut and promote ease of elimination.
Oats: (not quick oats): the body needs to use bile acid to digest this complex carb. (bile acid is actually made up of the body’s cholesterol). Eating a bowl of porridge is essentially like taking a sponge to the bad cholesterol that’s in your blood.
Psyllium husks: like oats, can assist in reducing LDL cholesterol.
Avoid trans fats: These fats raise your bad cholesterol while lowering your good cholesterol. But don’t blindly trust a “zero grams of trans fats!” sticker. Read the ingredient list—if it has partially hydrogenated oils, it has trans fats!!
Take niacin: This essential B vitamin raises HDL and lowers LDL and triglyceride levels.
Look for phytosterol-fortified foods. Phytosterols, compounds found naturally in plants, can lower cholesterol. To get a therapeutic dose, look for foods labeled as phytosterol-fortified, such as yoghurts, cheeses, and cereals.
Dietary intake of foods high in antioxidants is important as an inverse association has been found between dietary antioxidants and risk of CVD – vitamin E appears to be of particular value.
Omega-3 fatty acids: (particularly DHA) from cold-water fish may be beneficial for lowering elevated triglyceride levels.
Psyllium husks, like oats, can assist in reducing LDL cholesterol. Taken twice daily, on arising and evening. In 5cm (2″) of water, add a teaspoon of psyllium husks and ensure that you follow with another glass of water (250ml).
This will soften the stool and facilitate easy passage through the bowel. Be sure to mix the psyllium quickly and drink it down followed immediately be another full glass of water
Lecithin: emulsifies fat thereby lowering cholesterol – 1-2 tsps per day (can be sprinkled on cereal)
Regular aerobic exercise (starting slowly and increasing as your fitness improves). Walking is recommended and has been shown to enhance collateral cardiac circulation.
Nuts and Seeds: almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; also Linseed meal (1 tsp per day only)
Water: drinking 2 litres of fluid per day, this includes plain filtered water and herbal teas such as; Chamomile, Dandelion, Green tea, Peppermint, Jasmine, Lemon and Ginger
It is also best to consult a trained health care professional to guide you on your journey! Here’s to health!!
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Carrie Walters – Naturopath