Help! I've got high cholesterol

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Let us be clear about one thing - we need cholesterol for our survival. Our liver produces it even if we don’t get it externally. Cholesterol is necessary for our existence. Triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. Fats help the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. The so-called “fat-soluble” vitamins—A, D, E and K—are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues.


Our liver is the largest gland in the body and it’s important in metabolizing fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. A healthy liver does all this unnoticed. An important function of the liver is to produce and clear cholesterol in the body. Liver function complications can hinder the organ’s ability to produce or clear cholesterol. So value your liver as you would your heart. Look after it - you can help keep your liver healthy by both following the dietary recommendations in this article and The Healthy Eating Plan.


You might hear your doctor refer to your ‘lipid profile’. In simple terms this refers to total cholesterol (serum cholesterol) and within that, the LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein or the bad cholesterol) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein or the good cholesterol). Proteins are the vehicles that carry the lipids in your blood. Hence the name Lipoprotein. The LDL deposits cholesterol in your arteries and this is what gives rise to clogged arteries which then results in cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis (the hardening of your arteries). The HDL is your good cholesterol and works by removing the deposits in your arteries. In simple terms the important factor is the cholesterol / HDL ratio which is simply your total serum cholesterol divided by the HDL. However, there is a bit more to this as explained in the article The Cholesterol Myth.


So, in order to maintain good health, it is in our interest not to increase the cholesterol / HDL ratio in favour of the bad cholesterol (LDL). How do we do that? Simply by changing the types of food we eat (though for some, medication might initially be their only option) and making a few lifestyle changes.


‘Heart Healthy’ Essential Fats






Have ‘heart healthy’ fat at every meal if possible. You may also add them to your snacks. Keep the amounts to about 1 tablespoon at a time, three times a day.



Include:

· Cold - pressed, unrefined vegetable oils such as sesame, olive, safflower for salad dressing. Supplement with flaxseed / linseed oil. Store them in the fridge.

· Coconut oil for cooking.

· The use of freshly - ground flax seeds can improve digestion, prevent and reverse constipation, stabilize blood sugar levels and bring about many other beneficial effects. Store them in the fridge.

· Butter in moderation for spreading (organic goat or sheep preferably).

· Nut butters - made without sugar or palm oil.

· Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazils, etc.) and seeds (flax also called linseed, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)

· Tahini (creamed sesame seeds) for sauces and dressings.

· Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, are a good source of protein, have more potassium than bananas – and way less sugar

· Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, sild (young herring) etc.

Avoid:

· Commercially produced vegetable oils whose labels do not state that they have been cold - pressed or are extra virgin.

· Heating oils to high temperatures.

· Storing oils in the light, i.e. in glass bottles on a window sill. So buy oils sold in coloured bottles.

· Roasting nuts, as it destroys the oils

· Palm oil, as it is a saturated fat.

· Hydrogenated margarine i.e. those made with polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which have been hydrogenated.


Foods that will help reduce cholesterol

In brief here are some of the foods that will help you reduce your high cholesterol:


· Fruits such as Apples, Bananas, Berries, Cherry, Coconuts, Oranges, Peach, Pear

· Vegetables such as Brussels Sprout, Beans, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Onions, Yam

· Nuts such as Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Pistachio, Walnuts

· Cereals such as Oats and Muesli taken with non-diary milk

· Reduce your diary milk and consider using non diary such as Soya Milk, Oats Milk, Almond Milk etc., or for taste use goat or sheep milk

· Reduce all dairy cheese. Goat and sheep cheese have proteins which are easier to digest for many people, but still eat these with moderation.


Interesting Facts to enlarge on the above:

Apples can reduce the risk up to 50%. Research in Netherlands has shown that the phytochemicals in apples could help cut the risk of death from heart disease or stroke in half. Drinking 12 ounces of apple juice or eating two whole apples a day is beneficial.

Berries - Berries like strawberries and cranberries are rich in antioxidants, which reduce the risk of heart disease.

Onions can reduce the risk by up to 25%. Eat half a raw onion a day raises HDL (good) cholesterol an average of 25 percent in most people with cholesterol problems.

Garlic There are now over 12 well designed studies published around the world that confirm that garlic in several forms can reduce cholesterol. Most recently researchers in Oxford and America have published some summaries of all the good data on garlic.

Garlic as lipid lowering agent - a meta-analysis

Silagy CS, Neil HAW, 1994, The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians, Vol 28 No 1:39-45

The authors state that garlic supplements have an important part to play in the treatment of high cholesterol and that this paper reviews all the published and unpublished data from around the world. Overall a 12% reduction in total cholesterol was shown over a placebo and that this reduction was normally evident after only 4 weeks treatment and that this was likely to persist for as long as the study was in progress.

Legumes / Beans can reduce risk up to 30%. The fibre, protein and other compounds present in legumes, lentils and beans can reduce cholesterol, blood clotting and improve blood-vessel function. These are also a great source of folate, which keeps homocysteine levels (an indicator of heart trouble) in check. One serving of dried beans / legumes a day can reduce cholesterol by up to 10%.

Oats can reduce the risk by up to 29%. Oats contain beta-glucans, a soluble fibre. Eating about one-cup of cooked oatmeal a day significantly decreases blood cholesterol levels.

Nuts - Eating 67 grams of nuts, including in-shell Pistachios, can significantly lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by up to 5 and 7% respectively and triglycerides by up to 10%, according to a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine in May 2010. "In-shell pistachios are good for lowering cholesterol & triglycerides, improve blood vessel function, blood sugar control, act as potent antioxidant and offer weight management benefits, all of which are important for improving heart health," according to Martin Yadrick, immediate past-president of the American Dietetic Association. Walnuts can reduce the risk by up to 45%. They contain omega 3 fatty acids, which lowers cholesterol and prevents blood clots. Eating walnuts can decrease your total cholesterol level by 12% and LDL cholesterol level by 16%. Peanuts (Ground nuts) contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Peanut has high bioflavonoid resveratrol which helps improve blood flow in the brain by about 30%, thus reducing the risk of stroke. Adding even small amounts of peanut products to the diet can reduce LDL cholesterol by 14%.

Olive Oil can reduce the risk by up to 40%. Of all cooking oils, olive oil contains the largest proportion (77%) of monounsaturated fat and has powerful antioxidants, which lowers LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL levels.

Psyllium Husk for high cholesterol. 3g to 12g of soluble fibre from psyllium seed husk when included as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels.

Vegetables Green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek (methi) and broccoli are foods rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants that protect our heart against cholesterol.

Herbs Green tea, Terminalia, Arjuna, Rauwolfia serpentine, Sida Cordifolia and Digitalis Pupurea are heart friendly herbs. These herbs can be taken in the form of tea.

Goat and Sheep milk Farmstead goat and sheep milk cheese have fewer calories, lower cholesterol and aids in the absorption of minerals in the body. [1]

One cup of goat’s milk supplies 20.0% of the daily value for riboflavin, comparable to the 23.5% of the daily value for riboflavin provided in a cup of cow’s milk. [2]

Goat’s milk is also a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. [3]

Goats and sheep produce milk that is easily digestible and higher in protein. [4]

Researchers found that goat milk could help prevent diseases such as anaemia and bone demineralization. Research is being conducted concerning natural fatty acid found in dairy products that may contain cancer-fighting abilities. [5]

Goat milk is closer to human mother’s milk than any other food. [6]

Both goat’s milk and sheep’s milk are packed with more vitamins and minerals than cow’s milk, although sheep’s milk comes out slightly ahead in the nutrient race. Both types of milk contain a range of B vitamins, including B2, B3, B6 and B12, but sheep’s milk provided between 33 percent and 50 percent more B vitamins than goat’s milk. [7]

As people age, many suffer from lactose intolerance. Goat and sheep cheeses are an alternative and more easily digestible for those afflicted with lactose intolerance. Their milk has been proven to help with metabolic utilization of minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. [8]

References

[1] Whfoods.org, “Milk, goat” (World’s Healthiest Foods)

[2] Cheng S,Lyytikainen A, Kroger H, Lamberg-Allardt C, Alen M, Koistinen A, Wang QJ, Suuriniemi M, Suominen H, Mahonen A, Nicholson PH, Ivaska KK, Korpela R, Ohlsson C, Vaananen KH, Tylavsky F. Effects of calcium, dairy product, and vitamin D supplementation on bone mass accrual and body composition in 10-12-y-old girls: a 2-y randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov;82(5):1115-26. 2005. PMID:16280447.

[3] Elwood PC, Pickering JE, Fehily AM. Milk and dairy consumption, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome: the Caerphilly prospective study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Aug;61(8):695-8. 2007. PMID:17630368.

[4]Whfoods.org, “Milk, goat” (World’s Healthiest Foods)

[5] Kesse-Guyot E, Bertrais S, Duperray B, Arnault N, Bar-Hen A, Galan P, Hercberg S. Dairy products, calcium and the risk of breast cancer: results of the French SU.VI.MAX prospective study. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007; 51(2):139-45. Epub 2007 May 29. 2007. PMID: 17536191.

[6] Compare the Health Benefits of Goat Milk versus Cow Milk, Angela Harris, 2009

[7] Livestrong.com, “Nutritional Breakdown of Sheep Milk vs. Goat Milk”

[8] Science Daily, 2007

Garlic and fish oil

Effect of garlic and fish oil supplementation on serum lipid and lipoprotein levels in hypercholesterolemic men

B J Holub and A J Adler, Nutrition Research Group for Heart Disease Prevention, Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

This study examined the effects of garlic and fish oil supplementation (alone and in combination) on serum lipids and lipoproteins in hypercholesterolemic subjects. The main purpose was to assess the potential for garlic supplementation, when given in combination with a fish body oil concentrate, to provide a nutritional regimen for simultaneously controlling elevated total cholesterol, LDL- cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Also it was of interest to determine if garlic could offset the fish oil-induced rise in LDL-cholesterol which has been commonly observed.

After an initial run-in phase, 50 male subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia were randomized for 12 weeks to one of 4 groups; (1) a control (full placebo) group consisting of garlic placebo (GP), 900 mg/d, plus vegetable oil placebo (OP), 12 g/d (GP/OP), (2) garlic (G), 900 mg/d (Kwai m), plus OP, 12 g/d (G/OP); (3) GP, 900 mg/d, plus fish oil (FO), 12 g/d (G/FO). Lipid/lipoprotein measurements on fasting samples were performed at 0, 3, 6, 9 and 12 weeks as were blood pressures. Mean total serum cholesterol level at entry was 252 mg/dl (6.55 mmol/L) whereas LDL- cholesterol was 170 mg/dl (4.42 mmol/L).

In the control group (GP/OP), mean serum total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and fasting triglycerides (TG) were not significantly changed in relation to baseline. Mean group TC levels were significantly lower by 12 weeks with G/OP (-11.5%, p<.001) and with G/FO (- 12.2% or -31 mg/dl, p<.001) when compared with control. In the group taking GP/FO, mean group TC levels were not significantly changed. Mean group LDL-C levels were reduced with G/OP (-14.2%,p<001) when compared with control. In the group taking fish oil (GP/FO), mean LDL-C levels were significantly raised (+8.5%,p<.005) whereas the presence of garlic (G/FO group) provided a reduction (-9.5%,p<0.01). Mean group TG levels were reduced with G/FO (- 34.3%,p<.001) and by GP/FO (-37.3%, p<.001) when compared to control. In the group taking G/OP, mean group TG levels were not significantly changed. Mean group serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels were not significantly elevated under any treatment when compared to the controls although garlic alone (G/OP) and garlic plus fish oil (G/FO) provided significantly lower rates of TC/HDL-C. Mean blood pressure decreased by 2.4% in all but the control (full placebo) group. Food records indicated no significant differences in macro-nutrient dietary intakes across the groups. Compliance was monitored by supplement counts and fatty acid analyses of omega-3 fatty acids in serum phospholipid.

Garlic supplementation alone (G/OP) significantly decreased both TC and LDL-C levels while fish oil supplementation alone (GP/FO) significantly decreased TG levels and increased LDL-C levels. The combination of garlic plus fish oil (G/FO) prevented the moderate fish oil-induced rise in LDL-C and gave an overall decrease. Co-administration of garlic and fish oil for 12 weeks was generally well- tolerated over the experimental period and exhibited a beneficial effect on serum lipid and lipoprotein levels by providing a combined lowering of TC, LDL-C, and TG levels as well as a lowering of TC/HDL and LDL-C/HDL-C ratios in the hypercholesterolemic subjects.


Lifestyle Changes

Exercise can improve cholesterol levels for the better. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol. Consider taking a brisk daily walk, riding your bike to work, or playing a favorite sport. Work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.

Stop smoking

Lose weight

Drink alcohol only in moderation


This blog is for information purposes only. Taking responsibility for your own health does not mean abandoning good sense or standard medical care. The information provided is not to be used for diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, if you have a persistent or recurring complaint, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 111 (UK).

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