I’m getting old and my age is catching up to me. The older you get the greater your chances of developing heart disease. In my case, high cholesterol runs in my family. Which makes my chances even greater.
Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood. If you have too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries. This is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. The buildup can narrow the arteries and make it harder for blood to flow through them. The buildup can also lead to dangerous blood clots and inflammation that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
There are different types of cholesterol. LDL is what is considered “bad” cholesterol. It’s the kind that can raise your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. If LDL is the bad cholesterol, then HDL is the “good” cholesterol that is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
A lipid profile blood test reports the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood stream. The chart below is what the medical community believes the ranges should be, but the most important thing to consider is the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol which should be around 2:1. To help avoid a heart attack, research has found that a key strategy is getting LDL way down. Striving for LDL levels of 100 and below is good, but dropping to 80 and lower may be even better.
Here are my top 5 ways I’ve reduced my cholesterol WITHOUT going on medication prescription:
- Exercise and Weight Loss – Studies have shown that a loss as little as 10% of your total body weight can improve cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as lower the risk of a heart attack. If you drop just 10 pounds you can cut your LDL by up to 8%. The American Heart Association recommends including at least 40 minutes’ worth of moderate to vigorous exercise at least three to four times a week.
- Studies have shown that moderate exercise can increase the size of your LDL particles, which can help to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In one study, a 12-week endurance exercise program reduced small, dense LDL by up to 17 percent.
- Studies in mice have suggested that exercise can enhance the transport of cholesterol from the bloodstream to the liver, where it will eventually be filtered out of the body.
- Exercising regularly can increase your HDL cholesterol by between 3 and 6 percent.
- Avoiding Refined Sugar – Numerous large studies have shown that the more high-glycemic foods a person consumes, the higher his risk for becoming obese and for developing diabetes and heart disease. High-glycemic foods are those that quickly affect blood sugar, which includes, but is not limited to, foods that are made with refined sugar.
- Taking Supplements – Below are some supplements and their ideal dosages:
- Fish Oil (1,000mg – 2,000 mg daily) – EPA and DHA (omega-3 fats) found in fish oil have been found to help reduce overall cholesterol levels. If you don’t care for fish Advocare offers a good Omega 3 supplement, discussed here, which I take routinely.
- CoQ10 (200-300 mg daily) – CoQ10 given to 53 healthy young males at 150 mg per day for two weeks led to a significant 12.7 percent decrease in LDL.
- Niacin (1,500 mg daily) – Niacin (vitamin B3) can reduce LDL by 25% and increase HDL by 35%
- Red Yeast Rice (1200 mg 2x daily) – Reduces cholesterol by up to 32%. Take with CoQ10 to prevent deficiency.
- Garlic (500 mg daily) – Increases HDL and lowers total cholesterol.
- Eating more soluble fiber – Foods naturally rich in soluble fiber are excellent at lowering cholesterol. Making this diet change can reduce LDL levels by 3 to 5% in only six weeks. Sources of soluble fiber include:
- Grains and Potatoes – oats, oat bran, barley, yams, sweet potatoes and other potatoes.
- Legumes – pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, and peas.
- Vegetables – carrots, brussel sprouts, beets, okra, and eggplant.
- Fruits – berries, passion fruit, oranges, pears, apricots, nectarines, and apples.
- Drinking Green Tea – Research shows that drinking green tea can have an impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Green tea lowers your bad cholesterol while leaving your good cholesterol untouched.
While all of the above has worked for me in the past, they’re habits that must be diligently adhered to. These habits should be a lifestyle change and not simply a temporary fix until your blood tests read favorable. Still, there are those individuals that no matter what they do to improve their lifestyle and lose weight, it’s not enough and doesn’t have enough impact on the cholesterol levels. It’s at that time when medication should be discussed with your physician.