Mousab Kassem Azzawi
2020 / 10 / 13
Researched by Academy House Team
Edited by Mousab Kassem Azzawi, MSc, MD, PhD.
The cholesterol-lowering drugs that are commonly prescribed in the everyday medical practice can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events and bring further health benefits to the patients. However, many people are looking for a way to lower their cholesterol and triglycerides without the need to use pharmaceuticals approaches. In this lecture, you will learn about cholesterol and the different cholesterol particles. More importantly, you will learn how to impact cholesterol through nutrition, exercise, and supplements. As a rule of thumb, it is always crucial to consult your physician before starting any supplement regimen.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in the fats in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to make healthy cells. Nonetheless, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and other diseases as well, such as dementia.
Not all cholesterol is bad. In fact, we need to make some important hormones with our cholesterol, such as oestrogen for women and testosterone for men.
All the cholesterol we need can be manufactured inside the body by the liver. Some people have genetic disorders that lead the liver to manufacture more cholesterol than needed, but this is rare. Moreover, there is another source of cholesterol which comes from outside the body through the food we consume. Additionally, for most of us, high cholesterol is related to our lifestyle. The food we eat, how much alcohol we drink, our physical activity, and even our stress levels play important roles in our metabolism -function-s and eventually our cholesterol level.
Your physician may order a standard blood test to check your cholesterol levels called a lipid panel´-or-a lipid profile. Typical reports include four important numbers: total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. These are the four basic components of your cholesterol panel.
HDL,´-or-high-density lipoprotein, is the good cholesterol. This cholesterol is responsible for pulling plaque out of the arteries.
LDL,´-or-low-density lipoprotein, is the bad cholesterol. This cholesterol causes plaque in the arteries.
Having too much LDL (the “lousy” cholesterol) and not enough HDL (the “happy” cholesterol) is what leads to coronary artery disease´-or-a blockage in arteries anywhere in our bodies.
Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulate in our bloodstream. They store unused calories so that if we go for a long period of time without food, the triglycerides can release this energy when we need it.
Being overweight can increase your triglycerides. Lack of physical activity can also increase triglyceride levels because exercise burns triglycerides. In addition, liquid calories—which are filled with sugar—including alcohol, fruit juice, and soda, contribute to high triglyceride levels. A diet that is high in carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates, increase your triglycerides.
As triglycerides increase, HDL decreases, so if you can lower your triglyceride levels, you can raise the HDL in your body.
You can take three simple steps—nutrition, exercise, and supplements—to lower your triglyceride levels. Sugar and simple carbohydrates raise the triglycerides. If the triglycerides are high, then the HDL is low.
The foods that raise triglycerides include simple sugars (cookies, cakes, candy, and ice cream), liquid calories (alcohol, soda, and fruit juice), simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, and rice noodles), and starchy vegetables (potatoes and winter squash).
The best foods to eat are the same foods that will lower your triglycerides, such as whole grains, lentils, and beans. Fruits that are low in sugar—such as apples, peaches, pears, plums, berries, oranges, and grapefruits—can also lower triglyceride levels when they are consumed in moderation.
You can also eat green leafy vegetables to lower your triglycerides. You can eat as much as you like from this category, as long as you wash the vegetables thoroughly to minimise the risk of being exposed to larger quantities of pesticides.
Two of the best supplements that can be used to lower triglycerides are omega-3 fish oil and the B vitamin niacin.
Omega-3 fish oil has been shown to decrease triglycerides by 45 percent if you take four grams,´-or-4,000 milligrams, per day.
Niacin is not only used to lower triglycerides, but it is also used to raise HDL. Niacin can lower triglycerides by over 50 percent if you take 2,000 milligrams per day.
However, people with a history of intestinal ulcers, gout,´-or-liver problems should not take niacin. In addition, not all brands of niacin are the same-;- no-flush niacin does not work to lower the triglycerides´-or-raise the HDL. Niacin should be taken under your physician’s guidance because your liver needs to be monitored when taking it.
Foods that will raise your LDL include saturated fat (beef, pork, lamb, and dark poultry) and full-fat dairy (whole milk, whole cheese, whole cottage cheese, full-fat yogurts, butter, and cream).
To lower your LDL, substitute the meats you eat with vegetable protein—which has zero cholesterol—and if you consume dairy from a cow, make sure that it is organic and less fat.
Organic tofu is a great substitution for meat. Tofu comes from the soybean, so it has no cholesterol.
Nuts are a good source of protein, but they are high in calories, so when you eat nuts, use them only as a garnish. In addition, omega-3 eggs can be used to make egg-white omelettes, and organic, low-fat yogurt is a great source of protein
Fibre can also be used to lower cholesterol. You can find fibre in whole foods such as steel-cut oats and psyllium seeds. Increasing your fibre slowly, you should eventually consume at least 35 grams of fibre per day.
Shrimp is a fish that is extremely high in cholesterol. Instead, try to moderately eat white fishes such as cod, haddock, plaice, pollock, coley, dab, flounder, red mullet, gurnard, and tilapia. Oily fishes such as herring, bloater, kipper, hilsa, pilchards, salmon, sardines, sprats, trout, mackerel are less favourable because they contain higher levels of contamination with heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and cadmium. It is worth remembering that fish is still an animal product, and it still contains cholesterol.
Artichoke extract has been shown to lower LDL by 15 percent when taken in a 500-milligram tablet three times per day.
Taking approximately two grams of plant sterols extract per day will decrease your LDL by about 10 percent.
EGCG is the active ingredient of green tea-;- and taking 500 milligrams of EGCG twice a day will lower your LDL by 13 percent. You can also drink about 1 to 4 cups of organic green tea to get the same effect.
Taking 300 milligrams of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) three times per day can lower your cholesterol as much as 36 percent.
Red yeast rice can be taken in 600-milligram tablets four times per day—two tablets in the morning and two at night for a total of 2,400 milligrams—to reduce cholesterol by 42 percent.
If you have a history of not being able to take statins (called statin intolerance)´-or-if you have muscle´-or-joint aches, do not take red yeast rice as a supplement. Red yeast rice can also lower the enzyme CoQ10, so when taking red yeast rice, also take 100 milligrams per day of CoQ10.