Cholesterol Can Be BAD!
Do You Have High Cholesterol?
Here are a few ideas which might help you lower your cholesterol level naturally. Cholesterol is a hidden killer, so it's a good idea to get your level checked about once a year.
A high cholesterol level can cause strokes, heart attacks, and probably exacerbate other medical problems.
I'll be trying these things too, because I've just found out what my level is! At least my doctor isn't a huge prescriber of drugs, and is happy to let me work on my diet to lower my cholesterol level. During the past couple of years, it has varied between 7.2 and 6.7, high, but I prefer not to medicate.
I'll try to include any tips and ideas to reduce cholesterol as I find them. Hopefully, the level will go down if I improve my diet.
Disclaimer: I have no medical training, and advise that if you think you have a cholesterol problem, please seek the advice of a Medical Practitioner.
What To Do About High Cholesterol
One of the best ways to reduce your cholesterol level is to cut down the amount of animal fats you eat.
Animal fats are contained in the following foods:
- Fatty Meats
- Chicken Skin
- Pies, Pasties, Chips, Cakes, Biscuits
By cutting down on these, and eating more fish and legumes, you could reduce your cholesterol level by up to 10%. For some people the level will fall even more.
Of course, there are always a few people for whom dietary changes have no effect, and for them, it may be necessary to take medication. The body manufactures some cholesterol on its own, as some is required by it.
Fruits And Vegetables Which May Help
Soluble fibre is the factor in vegetables which helps to lower cholesterol. Some of the vegetable that contain healthy amounts of soluble fiber are listed below. It is recommended that we eat 5 servings of vegetables per day.
- Green Vegetables
- Brussel Sprouts, Artichokes, Peas, Asparagus, Okra, Watercress.
- Other Vegetables
- Beans, Lentils,Butternut Pumpkin,Parsnips, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes and Beetroot.
All fruits will help to lower cholesterol, as a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is one of the best ways to keep your cholesterol level down. Some sources believe that we should eat 8 servings of them each day, although 5 is more often recommended..
- Avocados : These are a good source of Vitamins C and K and folate, although they are high in calories. The fibre content is what helps with cholesterol.
- Oranges: Contain a large amount of Vitamin C, so are a good fruit to have in your diet.
- Kiwi Fruit (Chinese Gooseberry) Lemons, Bananas, Apples, Grapes : These are all excellent sources of various vitamins and fibers.
Of course, there are many other varieties of fruit not mentioned here, but all will be helpful in maintaining a healthy diet.
Have You Had A Checkup?
What do you do if you have high cholesterol? In fact, how do you know if you have it? What are the symptoms?
It is not really possible to tell if you have a high cholesterol level in your blood unless you have a blood test. There are no obvious symptoms, and many people are diagnosed only as part of a routine medical examination.
Some of the risk factors are your diet, smoking, some medications, and lack of exercise. Family history, genetics, is often a factor in your risk level also.
If you are found to have an elevated level in your blood, then your doctor will advise you as to the best way to improve it, by working with you. Treatment can be tailored to your particular circumstances.
It is recommended that everyone over 20 have a blood test every five years, and more often if you are at risk.
How's Your Cholesterol Level?
Is your cholesterol level high?
HDL And LDL Cholesterol
What do they do?
HDL cholesterol is a high-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called "good cholesterol" because it helps to lower the LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in your blood.
HDL Cholesterol works by collecting excess cholesterol particles in your blood, which it then returns it to your liver for breaking down. If you have a high HDL level, your LDL level is likely to be lower. A level of 60 mg/dL of HDL in your blood is desirable.
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, or millimoles per liter (L). When it comes to HDL cholesterol, aim for a higher number.
Cholesterol is a lipid, produced by the liver. It is essential for your body.
Some of the functions of cholesterol :
* It converts sunshine to vitamin D
* It is an insulation for your nerve fibres
* It metabolises fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K
* It is a building block for hormones and cells
* It aids the digestion of fats
As you can see, cholesterol isn't all bad, but too much of it in your system can be really damaging to your health.
The "bad" cholesterol is the LDL type. Although it is essential to the body's function, too much of it in your bloodstream can clog your arteries by sticking to their sides. This causes high blood pressure, and eventually can lead to heart attacks.
Research into cholesterol now believes that it has a role in metabolising calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones.
These are just a few of the things which cholesterol can do for you.
Raspberries And Blueberries Are Good For You
Raspberries contain no cholesterol. They also have no salt (sodium) or fat. Since they are high in folate (iron) and vitamin C, they are a very healthy food. They also taste great!
Raspberries also contain pectin, a soluble fiber which can help the body rid itself of cholesterol and other toxins. They also contain magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which the body needs to remain healthy.
Raspberries, along with other fruits, are ideas for healthy snacks.
If you like gardening, raspberries are a very easy crop to grow. They'll need to be staked, as they like some support, but will require little in the way of care. Perhaps some organic fertilizer, such as hen manure, will help them grow.
New research has shown that blueberries can lower your cholesterol level.
The "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" stated that rodents in laboratories fed blueberry peels and blueberry processing leftovers seemed to show more healthy cholesterol levels compared to those given a blueberry free diet. Pharmaceutical companies are now looking into using blueberries in a new cholesterol lowering drug.
Why do we need this drug? Why don't we go out and buy or grow some blueberries? Do the drug companies really need to do this?
A healthy diet promotes healthy cholesterol levels. Eating plenty of fresh fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc., will help your cholesterol level without recourse to drugs.
Broccoli, spinach and other greens are also a good source of cholesterol lowering foods. Many of the foods mentioned here are also suppliers of antioxidants, and could help prevent some types of cancer.
Since I like raspberries, blueberries, broccoli and spinach, I'll be adding more of them to my diet, in the hope that my cholesterol level will go down. I refuse to take drugs for it, and have successfully lowered it before using diet. Now to discover a good source of blueberries nearby that won't break the bank! :-)
Some Risk Factors
High cholesterol levels can be hereditary. Do you have a family member who has been diagnosed with this problem?
Your diet is also a big factor in high cholesterol. Trans fats, saturated fats, and a low fiber diet are all high risk factors. It is best to east foods which are low in fat, and high in fiber. Vegetables, grains and fruit are high fiber, and contain vitamins and minerals required by your body. Some foods are even helpful in reducing high cholesterol levels. Cakes, sweets, and chocolate should be avoided or eaten in moderation.
Age is a factor in high cholesterol - the older you are, the more chance there is of having it.
Do you lead an active life, or do you sit a lot in front of a desk or computer? Any exercise is better than no exercise!
Of course, smoking is no good for anyone, but it can also affect your cholesterol levels. Better not smoke, for the good of your health.
Did you know that women are at a higher risk of having high cholesterol levels after menopause? This is due to the hormones estrogen and progesterone levels changing. Pregnancy can also lift your cholesterol level.
Holidays Are Not Always Good For Your Health!
It's true - holidays are definitely not good for keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level . We've just returned from a four week break in the UK, Greece and Turkey, and I have to admit to really indulging in too much food.
There were Italiian restaurants, French restaurants, Chinese restaurants, not to mention the English pub food. Then there was the food in Greece and Turkey - when you're in these countries, you really have to eat the local food. Some of the desserts were absolutely beautiful, if not exactly fat and sugar free.
When I weighed myself, ny weight had gone up by four kilos, an average of one kilo a week - not good. I'm now on a strictly reduced diet and have already shed two kilos in two weeks. I'm hoping to lose the other two kilos very soon, and hopefully the size of my meals will stay smaller so that the rest of the extra weight will eventually fall off......
Salad Is Good For You
Do Cholesterol Lowering Spreads Really Work?
Cholesterol lowering margarine and spreads have been around for quite a while, but do they really work?
Research indicates that they do, provided the recommended amount is consumed on a daily basis.
If you keep to a healthy diet, don't smoke, and keep fit with some daily exercise, then you're on the way to keeping your level down. Don't forget to discuss it with your doctor, however, as family history can predispose you to this type of health problem.
Plant Sterols (Phytosterols)
Plant sterols (Phytosterols) are found in vegetable oils, usually in small quantities. They are used in medicine and in cosmetics, and are also used as a food additive to help lower cholesterol.
Plant sterols are found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, cereals and fruits.
They are being added to some foods, such as margarine, and have been found by CSIRO (Australia) research to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, they can reduce cholesterol levels by 10 - 15%.
Some Extra Food Facts
Nuts and cereals can help keep your cholesterol at manageable levels. Although eggs have sometimes been labelled as bad for you, they contain protein, so an egg a day is acceptable.
Red meat is not bad so long as it is eaten in moderation, perhaps 6 ounces per day. The serve should be lean meat, with the fat removed.
Fish which contain Omega-3 oils are good for you, and it is recommended that fish is eaten at least twice a week. Salmon and halibut are among the best fish you can eat.
Some nuts which are good for you are pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. Nuts should not be salted, and a handful per day is sufficient, as they can be fattening in excess.
Apples, pears, and bananas are also good to give you your daily fibre ration. A bowl of oatmeal is another food which contains fibre, and helps keep your cholesterol level down.
Something Else That May Help Your Health
Recently I've noticed that the health food companies are beginning to supply fish oil and glucosamine together in one capsule. This is certainly more economical than buying both separately, and perhaps this time, I'll manage to keep taking them.
Fish oil is supposed to be useful in reducing cholesterol, and glucosamine is helpful in reducing joint inflammation, both of which are problems I suffer from. Now that it is only one capsule instead of two, they may just become part of my daily routine.
You need glucosamine in your body, as it is used to build cartilage. The body does naturally produce some, but you may need more to help relieve the paid of inflamed joints.
Fish oil is a great natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are important for your heart, vision, and brain, helping to keep them healthy.
Do you have any experiences with using either fish oil or glucosamin to increase your health? Did it help your cholesterol level? Please let us know in the comments section, as I'm not convinced that this works.
Nature's Cure, Perhaps
This is a recipe my mother used to use. I have tried it, and it doesn't taste that bad. As to whether it works, I never had my levels tested, so I really can't say.
- 6 Lemons
- 6 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Litre of Water
Wash the lemons, cut everything into small pieces. Peel the garlic, and crush.
Put it all into a saucepan with the water, and heat until it boils. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Strain through something course, such as a tea strainer. Allow to cool.
Store in a covered glass container in the fridge.
Drink 100 mls each day before your main meal for six weeks. Take a break of two weeks, then repeat. Do this as necessary for your cholesterol levels.
Your Body Makes The Cholesterol It Needs
Cholesterol is not something you need to eat, such as vitalins and fresh vegetables. It is manufactured by your liver, which makes all your body requires.
Many foods contain high levels of cholesterol. These foods should be limited, if you want to have a healthy diet.
Animal products, such as meat, eggs, and dairy foods contain high levels of cholesterol, whereas foods from plants do not. Some plants contain statins, which are used in cholesterol reducing medications.
Since you do require a certain amount of fat in your diet, it's best to get it from fatty fish, or virgin olive oil. If you eat red meat and dairy products, make sure you use the low-fat variety, and cut the fat off your meat.
Basic Facts About Cholesterol
As I have absolutely no medical training, these facts will be written from the layman's point of view.
Cholesterol, which is not dissolvable in the blood, has to be transported to and from cells by lipoproteins, which are carriers.
There are two types of cholesterol in your blood, high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. HDL is sometimes called "good" cholesterol, and LDL "bad" cholesterol.
With triglyceridesm and lp(a) these two lipids make up your cholesterol level. To find out your cholesterol level, you'll need to have a blood test.
I'm not going to go into safe and unsafe levels here, as they are reported differently depending upon which country you are from. If you have a high cholesterol level, your doctor will discuss treatment with you.
Heart Attack Territory
This image of blockage in the artery is how cholesterol can affect your heart. A plaque build-up can be caused by high cholesterol.
The above illustration is in the public domain, prepared by a US government employee.
Other Health Issued May Affect Your Cholesterol Level
Recently, I started taking medication for hypothyroidism (my thyroid function was too low), and after a few weeks on it, discovered that my cholesterol level was dropping. Hopefully, next time I have a blood test, it will have dropped further, to within the safe levels.
The thyroid is a gland responsible for your metabolism, and is very important. I didn't know that it could affect cholesterol levels.
The image shows an artery almost blocked by cholesterol.