LDL HDL Cholesterol: How to Bring Proper Balance, Pros and Cons of cholesterol, Fish Oil and Niacin
The latest statistics from the American Heart Association show that an alarming number of Americans have an imbalance between LDL and HDL cholesterol. Each year about 30 million prescriptions are written for cholesterol drugs amounting to approximately 20 billion dollars in annual sales. There are two types of cholesterol found in the body which are HDL and LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol in men should be 40 mg/dL or above and 50 mg/dL or above for women. HDL levels over 60 is ideal for both men and women. Levels below 100 mg/dL are considered good for LDL cholesterol.
Prescription cholesterol medications called statins are effective but have many serious side effects which include severe muscle pain and liver damage. The liver produces cholesterol for important body metabolism. It is only when excess cholesterol is present in the body that it becomes a health threat. Statin drugs inhibit the production of cholesterol by blocking a valuable enzyme called HMG CoA, which is needed to manufacture cholesterol. Unfortunately, these medications also prevent the development of key nutrients like CoQ10 which cannot be manufactured without this enzyme.
How to Balance LDL HDL Cholesterol
Another problem with statin drugs is that they have no ability to raise HDL levels (good cholesterol). There are two reasons why it is important to raise HDL cholesterol. First, it helps to bring cholesterol balance by gathering excess LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from the blood and taking into the liver for removal from the body. Secondly, research has found that HDL cholesterol protects the heart and regardless of what level your LDL cholesterol is, you are still at risk for heart disease with low levels of HDL cholesterol.
Diet and Exercise
Research has found that a lifestyle free of cholesterol drugs, with the proper diet and exercise can reduce LDL cholesterol by 40 percent in one year. The diet should consist of wild salmon and a variety of raw fruits and vegetables. Avoid all processed foods which tend to contain dangerous modified fats known as trans-fats. Foods that have been known to have a LDL cholesterol reducing effect are onions, chili peppers, green tea and shiitake mushrooms. It is important to engage in cardiovascular exercise for at least 20 minutes three times per week. If you need a more mild form of exercise you can walk at a brisk pace for 45 minutes 3 to 4 times per week.
Pros and Cons of Niacin Treatment
Niacin is the single most effective way known to lower LDL Cholesterol and at the same time raise HDL cholesterol. It also has the ability to lower triglyceride levels, which are known to increase the risk of disease. However, there are some side effects. To be effective lowering LDL cholesterol a daily dose of between 1000 and 5000 mg is required. Taking this amount of niacin will cause significant flushing and itchy skin within an hour after consumption.
Although this is completely harmless, it can be quite irritating. Drinking 2 eight ounce glasses of water is very effective in diminishing the hot flush symptoms. Another way to ease symptoms would be to start with 50 mg 3 times per day and build up to 3 doses of 500 mg per day. Some experts believe “no flush” niacin to be just as effective. Others have called it the biggest scam in the health industry. Because its effectiveness is so controversial, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go with pure niacin with all its side effects.
Another side effect from niacin that is more serious is liver irritation. Niacin can raise liver function tests but this is usually mild and reversible by lowering the dose of niacin. However, when using high doses of niacin it is important to get the help of a natural health care professional to monitor for side effects that could lead to liver toxicity. You should have liver function tests before taking niacin and weekly while building up the niacin dose. When niacin treatment is used properly, it is among the safest, most effective and inexpensive ways to balance cholesterol levels and prevent against heart attack. Niacin has several other health benefits which include lowering blood pressure, helps with insomnia and anxiety and controls blood sugar.
The natural approach to health care is always the best approach. A proper diet without any cholesterol drugs will in time lower LDL cholesterol levels to normal without harmful side effects. There can be unpleasant, temporary side effects when taking niacin if preventative steps are not taken, but it is the most effective way to bring HDL and LDL cholesterol levels into balance and eliminate the risk of heart attack.