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Tips for Reducing High Cholesterol

Updated on January 14, 2020
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Linda's two favorite passions in life are writing and cooking. Her cooking skills were taught by her dear father when she was a young girl.

Healthy Vegetables

Vegetables have numerous health benefits, including helping to control high blood pressure.
Vegetables have numerous health benefits, including helping to control high blood pressure. | Source

Have you been Diagnosed with High Cholesterol?

I decided to write this article because I've been researching the subject for myself. I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and wanted to get ideas on what I can realistically do to get my bad numbers down. Getting my bad numbers down to a healthy level has been a combination of different factors. I try to eat healthy and limit my fat intake, I exercise at least five times a week, take supplements and chose to get on a statin medication. I hope in the future I can quit taking the statin drug by making better life-style changes. Hopefully, these simple tips can help you if your struggling with high cholesterol.

High Cholesterol

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FDA Update on Statin Safety and Side Effects

Summary of negative side effects of Statin drugs:

  • Liver injury is said to be rare but it is possible. Your primary care physician will schedule blood drawn every 6-8 months to make sure you are not having problems.
  • Some people report memory loss or mental fuzziness. I Definitely have memory issues but it's hard to say if it's from the statin or the chemotherapy I had some years back.
  • Risk of type 2 diabetes can develop. Your primary care physician should be scheduling blood draws every 6-8 months to make sure your not becoming diabetic.
  • Potential for muscle damage or muscle pain. I am one of those patients who unfortunately has problems with muscle pain; especially at night when I'm sleeping. The pain gets more severe as the night goes on, which has taught me to get up and walk around a little bit to ease the pain.
  • Sensitivity to the sun is a side effect of taking a statin. I am very thoughtful about putting on sunscreen to prevent sunburn. When I forget to apply sunscreen, I notice I get a sunburn very quickly.

To reiterate, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who take statins to prevent heart disease, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has important new safety information on these cholesterol-lowering medications. Here is a summary by the FDA:

FDA is advising consumers and health care professionals that:

  • Routine monitoring of liver enzymes in the blood, once considered standard procedure for statin users, is no longer needed. Such monitoring has not been found to be effective in predicting or preventing the rare occurrences of serious liver injury associated with statin use.
  • Cognitive (brain-related) impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion, has been reported by some statin users.
  • People being treated with statins may have an increased risk of raised blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Some medications interact with lovastatin (brand names include Mevacor) and can increase the risk of muscle damage.

Source FDA

High Cholesterol Quiz

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What is Cholesterol/High Cholesterol

The Mayo Clinic defines cholesterol as a waxy substance that can be found in the fats in your blood. We all need cholesterol to help build healthy cells but high cholesterol levels can lead to a high risk of heart disease.

LDL cholesterol can build up on the inside of artery walls and this is what can lead to blockages and heart attacks. LDL is the cholesterol we want to stay low.

HDL cholesterol is what many like to call, the Happy or Good cholesterol. This type of cholesterol prevents arteries from getting clogged. We all want to shoot for a high number with this cholesterol.

Although some of us may have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol, most of us have it because of life-style choices. The good news, we can change our unhealthy choices and habits to help against the fight of high cholesterol levels.

Causes of High Cholesterol Levels

According to WebMD, these are the main causes for high cholesterol levels:

  1. Certain foods you eat. Eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol.
  2. Being overweight. This may lower HDL ("good") cholesterol.
  3. Being inactive Not exercising may lower HDL ("good") cholesterol.
  4. Age. ...
  5. Family history

How to Get High Cholesterol Under Control

For those of us that don't have the genetic risk factor for high cholesterol, here are some basics to help you:

  • A healthy diet can help in lowering your cholesterol.
  • Exercise-At least 30 minutes of cardio-five days a week.
  • Medication-A simple blood test will reveal if you need to get on medication.
  • Supplements-Many opt to take supplements to help reduce high cholesterol; either in conjunction with medication, or on it's own.

Diet-Just a reminder: Ice cream, fatty meats and butter are big no no's when struggling with high cholesterol.

Healthy Foods

Here is a list of foods that are healthy for you:

Fiber-Any foods high in fiber are good for your diet. Foods such as: Oatmeal, oat bran, kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.

Omega's-Fish and omega-3 Fatty Acids are a healthy food choice. Just remember that broiling, baking and grilling are the best cooking methods. Frying fish in butter or fatty oils is an unhealthy cooking choice. Doctor's recommend having two servings of fish a week.

Nuts-Almonds, walnuts, peanuts and pistachios are some of the healthy choices. One handful a day can reduce your risk of heart disease.

List of Cholesterol Lowering Foods:

  • Oatmeal/Oat Bran
  • Whole Wheat Bread, Crackers and Pasta
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Legumes such as Kidney Beans
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Onions
  • Fruits such as Apples, Pears, Blueberries and Prunes
  • Olive Oil
  • Fish
  • Nuts such as Almonds/Walnuts
  • Skim Milk
  • Chicken and Turkey

Healthy Food Choices are Key for Reducing High Cholesterol

Salad is a healthy choice if you don't use too much salad dressing.
Salad is a healthy choice if you don't use too much salad dressing. | Source

Apples are a Healthy Food Choice

Fruit is a healthy food choice
Fruit is a healthy food choice | Source

Stay Away or Limit Foods High in Fat

Desserts high in fat are not good choices for high cholesterol
Desserts high in fat are not good choices for high cholesterol | Source

Statistics on High Cholesterol in Americans

According to CDC.Gov, many Americans struggle with high cholesterol. Here are some statistics:

  • 73.5 million adults in the U.S. have high LDL or "bad" cholesterol.
  • Fewer than 1 out of 3 adults with high LDL cholesterol has their condition under control.
  • Less than 1/2 of adults with high LDL cholesterol are getting treatment to lower their levels.
  • Nearly 31 million adult Americans have a total cholesterol level greater than 240 mg/dl.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Linda Rogers


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