LDL is Not Always the Bad Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is often described as “bad,” but the fact is that it is essential to human life. It’s actually possible to have too little LDL cholesterol, so little cholesterol that the immune system cannot protect the body against infectious diseases and cancer.

Most of the cholesterol in the human body is made by the body itself, not extracted from food. Every cell in the human body can make at least part of the cholesterol it needs from triglycerides, which are the storage form for unused fatty acids and sugar. Every cell in the human body has to have cholesterol to make its outer membrane, which keeps the contents inside the cell from being dissolved by the bloodstream.

Cholesterol also has to protected against dissolving in the bloodstream. Every piece of cholesterol is protected by a lipoprotein, a kind of protein that surrounds the waxy, fatty cholesterol inside. The lipoprotein itself is soluble in water.
What is LDL? Cholesterol begins its travels around the body as VLDL, or very low-density lipoprotein. These are large pieces of cholesterol that are used for repair and fuel. Cells take the cholesterol they need from the particle of VLDL, eventually shrinking it down to LDL, or low-density liproprotein.

LDL is important to the immune system. Larger pieces of LDL help the immune system conduct signals. Slightly smaller pieces of LDL serve as food for macrophages, literally “big eaters,” large white blood cells that can literally surround a bacterium and consume it. When macrophages aren’t dining on bacteria, they are dining on LDL.

So, what’s not to like about fuel for your immune system? Here are the three things everyone needs to know about LDL.

  1. Whether or not LDL has the potential to cause heart disease depends on the kind of lipoprotein to which it is attached. Bigger pieces of LDL are attached to a protein called apo-A. They are too big to be eaten by macrophages. Smaller pieces of LDL are attached to a protein called apo-B. They are just the right size to be eaten by macrophages. Hardening of the arteries isn’t caused by cholesterol, it’s caused by macrophages that get stuck in the lining of the arteries when they try to consume the smaller bits of LDL cholesterol. This process that actually creates “bad” cholesterol.
  2. Your total LDL number offers only a rough estimate of your risk of heart disease. The best number for predicting risk of heart disease is not LDL, or the ratio of LDL to HDL, but rather the ratio of apo-B to apo-A (or, more specifically, in terms of the names scientists and medical labs use to identify these lipoproteins, apoB100 and apoA1). You can have high LDL and and low apo-B, and not really be at increased risk for heart disease. You can have low LDL and high apo-B, and actually need a cholesterol-lowering drug. Total LDL cholesterol numbers don’t give you or your doctor the information needed.
  3. Your doctor needs to measure apo-A and apo-B at least at the beginning of your treatment. Then it is possible to use the LDL and HDL numbers your doctor probably usually takes to monitor your progress.

Scientists have known the truth about LDL cholesterol for nearly 30 years, but they are understandably hesitant to admit the system everyone uses is wrong. The cost of apo-B/apo-A testing has fallen to about US $50, however, so you should avail yourself of the possibilities of being sure you are really getting the treatment you need to have truly healthy cholesterol numbers.

HDL Cholesterol – Cholesterol Isn’t Either “Good” or “Bad”

It is almost medical heresy to suggest that LDL cholesterol isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but scientists have known this for over 25 years. The truth about cholesterol has been hidden by a medical establishment that supposes the public is too stupid to understand the facts about cholesterol and by health faddists who suppose everything about a position is right or everything about a position is wrong. This article is about what modern science really says.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, and the bloodstream is made up mostly of water. If cholesterol were not encased in a ball of protein, it could not travel throughout the body. That is what the “lipoprotein” you hear about does. It covers and carries a ball of cholesterol where it needs to go through the bloodstream.

Every single cell in every human being is coated with a mixture of cholesterol and other proteins. Every cell in the human body can make cholesterol out of fats, although some cells make more. The body makes most of its cholesterol out of other kinds of fats and triglycerides (the storage form of both excess fat and excess sugar). Only a small part of the body’s cholesterol, about 15 per cent, comes from food.

When reference is made to LDL or low-density lipoprotein, VLDL or very low-density protein, and HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, the terms really mean that cholesterol and be large and light or small and heavy. It used to be thought that larger, lighter balls of cholesterol were more likely to get “stuck” in blood vessels, so LDL cholesterol came to be known as “bad.

It turned out, however, that not all LDL cholesterol was “bad.” That is because the stuff that clogs arteries isn’t just cholesterol. It’s also the white blood cells that get stuck in the blood vessel wall when they come to feed on the cholesterol, and the additional white blood cells that get stuck in the blood vessel wall they come to remove the first white blood cell when it dies.

And even this mixture of cholesterol and white blood cells isn’t especially harmful until the process of oxidation makes it something like cement. It turns out that some kinds of LDL cholesterol harden, and some kinds of LDL cholesterol don’t. If the protein is a lipoprotein known as apo-B, then the LDL cholesterol can form a plaque. If the protein is a lipoprotein known as apo-A, then it doesn’t.

LDL and HDL aren’t good predictors of whether you are at risk for heart disease. Apo-A and apo-B are. Doctors do know that LDL and HDL tests don’t give the best information, but they order them because they are cheap and patients expect them. Whether you will find the test to be “cheap” depends on whether you suffer side effects from cholesterol medications you don’t really need.

So what should potential high cholesterol patients do before taking cholesterol medications? First, make sure you need the drug. The best way to find out is by taking a blood test to measure the ratio of apo-B to apo-A. You don’t have to fast to take it, and if your local lab can’t run it, it can send a frozen blood sample to a lab that can. In the USA, this test now costs about $55, although many doctors and clinics add a significant surcharge (up to $250) to send off your sample.

The next thing you should be ready to do is to take a medication if you have an unacceptably high ratio of apo-B to apo-A. However, be aware that you can have high LDL and low apo-B, and not need to take a medication. Also, you can have “normal” or even low LDL but high apo-B, and need medication.

What are good HDL cholesterol levels? Generally speaking, the numbers that really make a difference for your cardiovascular health are apo-A and apo-B. Your ratio of LDL to HDL is a good “guestimate” (about 4 is a maximum), but it is far, far more important to measure apo-A and apo-B. Total cholesterol measurements really don’t give you or your doctor any useful information.

What You Need to Know About Cholesterol, Cholesterol Testing, and Cholesterol Medications

Cholesterol is one of the most common of all health concerns, but if we are pressed on the question of “What is cholesterol?” most of us would have to answer “Something we need to lower.” The fact is, cholesterol is essential to every cell in the human body, and every cell in the human body can make at least part of its supply.

Why getting enough cholesterol is as important to your health as avoiding too much. The principle use of cholesterol is as a building material for the membranes that surround cells. Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance that isn’t soluble in water. The bloodstream, on the other hand, is mostly water. Without cholesterol in the cell membranes, the contents inside cells would dissolve into the blood. Cholesterol helps cells build flexible membranes that allow them to bend and stretch as necessary, keeping their contents safe.

Cholesterol is also a building block of most hormones and also of vitamin D. The cholesterol content of the adrenal glands and sex organs, which make hormones, and the skin, which makes vitamin D, is especially high.

The greatest part of the body’s cholesterol, however, is made in the liver. Only about 15% of all the cholesterol the body uses is digested from food. The other 85% is assembled from triglycerides and fatty acids, and about 50% of the body’s cholesterol is recycled.

The differences between VLDL, LDL, and HDL cholesterol. Recycling is the process that creates VLDL, LDL, and HDL cholesterol. The abbreviations stand for very low-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein. The lipoproteins surround cholesterol so it can travel in the bloodstream. A very low-density lipoprotein surrounds a relatively large particle of cholesterol. A low-density lipoprotein surrounds a somewhat smaller, somewhat denser cholesterol particle, and a high-density lipoprotein surrounds the “nugget” of cholesterol that remains after cells siphon off the cholesterol they need.

The liver uses HDL cholesterol to regenerate VLDL cholesterol by adding new layers of light, fluffy cholesterol to the HDL core. Then the VLDL travels through the body until it is used up, captured by the liver as LDL, or returns as HDL once again.

Before scientists knew about the differences between VLDL and LDL cholesterol, they assumed that the larger particles of LDL cholesterol somehow got stuck in blood vessels, causing plaques, and the smaller HDL particles of cholesterol eased through small passageways and did not cause atherosclerosis. It turned out that cholesterol plaques aren’t really 100% cholesterol.

What really causes clogged arteries. The cholesterol plaque that clogs an artery is actually made of both cholesterol and dead white blood cells. The white blood cells that destroy bacteria also use cholesterol as fuel, “swallowing” either bacteria or cholesterol whole. VLDL cholesterol is too large for these white blood cells to surround and absorb, and HDL is too small to meet their energy needs.

The larger particles of LDL attract these white blood cells where they need to go to kill bacteria, but they are too large to be absorbed. The smaller particles of LDL are just the right size for the macrophages to use as an energy source.

When a macrophage feeds on LDL in the lining of a blood vessel, sometimes it gets “stuck.” This depends on other factors, including the presence or absence of antioxidants in the bloodstream. The macrophage can live out its life cycle and die, still stuck in the blood vessel’s wall. Then other macrophages can come to attempt to remove it and also get stuck themselves.

The mass of macrophages and cholesterol can calcify and form a plaque. But without the action of the immune system, LDL cholesterol does not cause arteries to narrow, and not all LDL cholesterol is harmful.

The cholesterol tests that really count. Medical researchers and many doctors have been aware of this phenomenon for over 30 years-but little attempt has been made to educate the public because the old ways of measuring LDL and HDL cholesterol make a “good guess” of cardiovascular risk.

To really know an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease, however, it is best to measure the ratio of the particles of protein attached to the atherosclerosis-causing, smaller particles of LDL, compared to the particles of protein attached to the larger, harmless particles of LDL.

These two lipoproteins are known as apo-B (the harmful one) and apo-A (the harmless one). Changes in these two proteins are what really give you protection from heart disease, not changes in LDL and HDL. However, many cholesterol medicines that are described in terms of what they to do LDL and HDL actually change the ratio of apo-B and apo-A.

What you need to do for good cardiovascular health. The realities of how cholesterol relates to the risk of heart disease make a huge difference in the validity of cholesterol medicines, cholesterol testing, cholesterol charts, and how doctors honestly answer the question “What causes high cholesterol?” The most up-to-date way to use natural methods or medication to reduce the risk of heart disease includes not just appropriate cholesterol testing, but also control of blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammation though medication, cholesterol control diets, and cholesterol-lowering foods.

The Brief Essential Guide to VLDL Cholesterol

Everybody knows about HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but what is VLDL cholesterol. The simple answer is that HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, carries small particles, LDL, or low-density cholesterol, carries larger particles, and VLDL, or very low-density cholesterol, transports the largest cholesterol particles of all.

Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance that’s essential to every cell in the body as a component of the cell membrane that keeps it from being dissolved in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is also the basic building block of most hormones; the gonads and the adrenal glands can make their own supply in substantial amounts, as can the liver. Cholesterol is also converted back into triglycerides as used as a cellular fuel.

Because cholesterol is a fat, it can’t travel through the bloodstream unless it is covered by protein. Different proteins of different densities transport cholesterol particles as more and more of the cholesterol is taken by the cells that need it to build cell membranes and to make hormones. VLDL becomes LDL, and LDL becomes HDL. The more you exercise and the fewer calories you eat, the faster the process creates HDL. In the liver, HDL is combined with newly created cholesterol and triglycerides to make VLDL all over again.

The kind of cholesterol that clogs arteries is a particular size of LDL that is just right for being “swallowed” by the white blood cells that also “swallow” bacteria. These white blood cells, known as macrophages, are what really clog arteries. They get stuck in the lining of a blood vessel feeding on cholesterol, and die. Other macrophages come along to try to remove them and also get stuck, and the whole mass of white blood cells and cholesterol is what creates an arterial plaque.

VLDL does not cause plaques, and neither does HDL. Since VLDL cholesterol levels don’t affect heart disease, recommended cholesterol levels don’t include targets for VLDL. Most lab tests don’t measure VLDL levels directly, but estimate them as 1/5 of triglycerides.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol – The Most Extreme High Cholesterol Sometimes Causes Visible Symptoms

Dr. Demetrio Sodi-Pallares was an imminent cardiologist, considered one of the most exceptional diagnosticians in the world in his time. Born in Mexico City, Dr. Sodi, as he preferred to be called, taught medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Michigan, and Baylor Medical School, and pioneered non-surgical treatments for heart attacks while working down the hall from Dr. Michael Debakey, who pioneered bypass surgery.

One of Dr. Sodi’s most memorable cases was a woman who came to his free clinic in Mexico City with several unusual symptoms. This patient displayed:

  • Flesh-colored, wart-like growths on her eyelids.
  • Orange, itchy spots on her hands.
  • Hard, white circular spots smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser on her legs.

Dr. Sodi immediately recognized that she probably had extremely high cholesterol levels, and her labs came back with a total cholesterol level of 833 mg/dl (about 21.5 mmol/L) and triglycerides of over 4,000 (45.2 mmol/L). Interestingly, this woman was cured of both high cholesterol and high triglycerides not with medication or by low-cholesterol diet, but by eliminating the salt from her diet.

Symptoms like those of Dr. Sodi’s patient are very rare. High cholesterol usually does not cause any visible symptoms. The only way most cases can be detected is by laboratory analysis of a blood sample.

The most useful measure of cholesterol is a test most doctors don’t offer unless asked. The best predictors of future risk of heart disease are not total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL, but rather two kinds of proteins attached to LDL, apoA1 and apoB100. LDL that is attached to apoA1 does not form plaques in arteries. LDL that is attached to apoB100 may form plaques in the walls of arteries.

It is possible to have high LDL and low apoB100 and have a low risk of heart disease, not needing cholesterol medication. It is also possible to have low LDL and high apoB100 and have a high risk of heart disease, needing medication that a doctor would not know to prescribe without ordering the correct test. When you have your cholesterol tested, ask for apoA1 and apoB100 testing.

Five Frequently Asked Questions About Treating High Cholesterol with the B Vitamin Niacin

Most doctors are caught up in the idea that statin drugs are the one and only proven therapy for high cholesterol levels and their resulting increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Treatment with the B vitamin niacin, however, can be the closest thing to a perfect treatment for high cholesterol in people who have encountered muscle pain or memory problems when using statin medications.

Niacin is the B vitamin also known as vitamin B3. It is not always safe to take megadoses, but most people can safely take enough niacin to keep high cholesterol in control. Here are five frequently asked questions about using niacin for cholesterol.

Q. What is niacin? Is it the same as nicotinic acid?

A. Niacin is the B vitamin also known as nicotinin acid and vitamin B. It’s especially abundant in red meat, chicken, turkey, beans, and whole grains. It is crucial in keeping energy production inside every cell in the body from producing so many free radicals that energy production process shuts down, and it’s also involved in hormone production and protein synthesis.

Q. What are the benefits of niacin for cardiovascular health?

A. Individual results differ, but in general taking high-dose niacin:

  1. Lowers the number of small LDL particles, the kind that are associated with heart disease.
  2. Increases HDL, often by 20 to 35%. No other treatment, whether “natural” or pharmaceutical, increases HDL more.
  3. Decreases triglycerides, usually about 30%. Taking niacin with 4000 mg of fish oil a day is especially effective for lowering triglycerides.
  4. Blocks the release of fatty acids from fat cells (by making it safer for fat cells to burn them for fuel).
  5. Improves the action of nitric oxide synthase, giving results all over the body comparable for both men and women that are comparable to the localized benefits of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra for men.

In the Coronary Drug Project, 1000 survivors of heart attacks were put on 3000 mg of quick release daily for six years. Taking this dosage of niacin reduced the number of second, non-fatal heart attacks by 27%, and the number of strokes by 26%. In the HDL-Atherosclerosis Treatment Study, taking both niacin and simvastatin (Zocor) reduced rates of death by 90%.

Q. Which form of niacin is better, slow-release or immediate-release?

A. Niacin can trigger facial flushing, similar to a blush caused by embarrassment, or worse, if you have a skin condition called rosacea. The slow-release form of niacin doesn’t cause flushing, but it doesn’t stop cholesterol synthesis in the liver, either. Immediate-release niacin stops cholesterol production in the liver for a short time, but then lets liver activity go back to normal for the next 20 to 21 hours of the day. There is no risk of liver damage, as there is from continuous-release niacin, and there is better lowering of cholesterol.

Q. Can I take niacin if I have rosacea?

A. If you have the form of “adult acne” known as rosacea, you should not take niacin supplements. You will need to use other methods to lower high cholesterol.

Q. Is there anything I can do to stop the flushing I get after I take immediate-release niacin?

A. In most people, flushes only last 10 to 20 minutes, and after a few weeks, they go away. However, you can stop flushing by:

  1. Taking your niacin supplement with a handful (up to 2 oz/60 g) of almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, peanuts, or pistachios, which slow down the absorption of the vitamin, and which also help raise HDL.
  2. Taking your niacin supplement with a baby aspirin. Do not take even a baby aspirin without doctor’s direction if you use blood thinning medications.

Don’t take niacin if you have rosacea or gout, and don’t take high-dose niacin if you have peptic ulcer disease. If you have diabetes, be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels when you take the drug. Niacin therapy usually causes all blood sugar readings to go up about 5 mg/dl (0.3 mmol/L).

Natural Cholesterol Reduction with Cholesterol-Lowering Herbs

If you have been told you have “borderline high” cholesterol or if you simply cannot afford prescription medication, natural remedies for high cholesterol may be the way for you to go. Here are seven natural tools for cholesterol reduction with herbs and vitamins.

  1. Chinese red yeast rice produces the same chemical, lovastatin, that is used to make the statin drug Mevacor. In fact, red yeast rice lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol so effectively that the US Food and Drug Administration does not allow red yeast rice supplements to be standardized-becuase then they would be more effective than Mevacor, because they do not cause side effects.
  2. Stinging nettles, sometimes sold under their botanical name, Urtica dioica, have been shown to lower both total and LDL cholesterol in laboratory studies. They are also used to stimulate urination and to prevent (but not treat) kidney stones.
  3. The heart herb hawthorn has a small effect lowering total cholesterol and LDL, and raising HDL. More importantly, it lowers blood pressure and slows down the heartbeat while making the individual heartbeats stronger. One herb expert says, “Hawthorn is great for your heart. It just isn’t a wonder drug for your blood work.
  4. Niacin is known to be effective against high cholesterol. You can read much more about niacin for cholesterol on this site.
  5. Psyllium, the main ingredient in remedies in constipation such as Metamucil, lowers cholesterol by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in food. The cholesterol digested in food gets locked in the fibers of psyllium and is expelled with the stool during bowel movement. If you are on a strict, low-cholesterol diet, pysllium is superfluous, but if you eat meat and eggs, taking psyllium may make a difference in your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol numbers.
  6. The Ayurvedic herb guggul helps lower cholesterol by blocking absorption of cholesterol digested from food, but in a different way. Guggul stimulates the liver to produce bile salts. These bile salts trap cholesterol. Some of the trapped cholesterol gets carried into the hepatic portal vein for entry into the bloodstream, but more of it gets mixed with the contents of the bowel and expelled.
  7. Policosanol, which is extracted from sugar cane, has been extensively studied in comparison to the prescription statin drug Zocor (simvastatin). Policosanol and Zocor were shown to be equally effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but policosanol, unlike Zocor, also raised HDL. In one six-month study involving the use of 10 mg of guggul every day, total cholesterol was lowered by 16%, LDL cholesterol was lowered by 19%, and HDL cholesterol was raised by 24%.

What about foods for lowering cholesterol. There is some benefit from oat bran, orange juice, fish oil, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and simply making sure you get 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Any food cure for high cholesterol, however, works best when your overall consumption of food is no greater than your daily calorie needs.

What You Need to Know About Exercise and Cholesterol Levels

Most people, even most doctors, assume that exercise helps lower cholesterol levels. The real answers to the question “Does exercise lower cholesterol?” are actually just beginning to emerge.

How does exercise lower cholesterol? Researchers are in general agreement that exercise helps you lower your cholesterol levels by reducing your fat mass, even if you don’t lose weight, although you may experience a temporary surge in cholesterol levels when you first begin to work out regularly.

Fat cells release their stores to the rest of the body in the form of cholesterol. When you are just beginning to shrink your fat mass, your cholesterol levels may temporarily go up.

How does lowering cholesterol with diet and exercise affect LDL and HDL? As cholesterol is burned for fuel, the size of cholesterol particles shrinks. Big, fluffy, potentially dangerous low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) is replaced by healthier, smaller high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) as muscles use the triglycerides captured in cholesterol for energy. Exercise also stimulates the liver to make bile, which carries some excess cholesterol to the stool to be flushed away when the bowels move.

What is the relationship between the type of exercise and cholesterol levels? The more intense the exercise, the greater the lowering of cholesterol levels. A study conducted in 2002 by researchers at Duke University found that among overweight people who did not change their diet, getting the equivalent of 12 miles (20 km) of walking a week lowered LDL somewhat. Getting the equivalent of 20 miles (32 km) of jogging every week lowered LDL a great deal more.

Raising HDL, on other hand, definitely requires high-intensity exercise. If you work out until you have exhausted your muscles’ store of glycogen-about 1200 calories-then your fat cells have to surrender VLDL cholesterol to keep you going. Really dedicated exercisers may reduce LDL by 10 to 15% and raise HDL by 15 to 20%.

More exercise is better than less, but you won’t be getting more exercise if you injure yourself. As important as getting enough intense exercise is doing exercises safely so that you do not suffer broken bones, torn tendons, bruises, or sprains. Ultimately, the best exercise for lowering cholesterol is exercise you can continue to do on a regular basis.

Three Things Everyone Needs to Know About Increasing HDL

The kind of cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is what is left of much larger pieces of cholesterol (known as LDL) after they have been put to use by cells throughout the body. Serving as a building material and as a fuel, every cell in the human body depends on cholesterol, and most cells in the human body can make some, but not all, of their own cholesterol. This fatty substance is so important to human life that the liver is able to take leftover fats and sugars and turn them into cholesterol, regardless of how much cholesterol you consume in your diet.

The way to get higher HDL is to lower your LDL, not by depriving your body of cholesterol, but by making sure it uses LDL cholesterol in the right ways. Here are the three most important ways to lower your bad, LDL cholesterol and raise your good, HDL cholesterol.

  1. Exercise.
  2. The harder your work out, the more LDL cholesterol you convert into HDL cholesterol as your muscles convert LDL cholesterol into triglycerides and triglycerides into energy. Endurance exercise, preferably for about 45 minutes (or more) per session is better than high-intensity exercise that you do quickly.

  3. Losing weight.
  4. The body stores excess fat and sugar as triglycerides. Some of these triglycerides get turned into LDL cholesterol. After you lose about 10 pounds (4.5 kilos), you will probably have measurably lower LDL and measurably higher HDL. While you are losing weight, however, your cholesterol levels may actually go up, because your fat cells are releasing energy, some of it to be burned, some of it turned into cholesterol by the liver. Losing weight by working out is much harder, but it helps you raise HDL and lower LDL faster.

  5. Supplements.
  6. Several supplements help you raise HDL as you lower LDL. The Ayurvedic remedy guggul, for example, is a good way to lower triglycerides and LDL, with your HDL levels going up after your LDL levels go down, usually after 3 to 4 months. Pantethine, also known as vitamin B5, raises LDL without the side effects of statin drugs. Psyllium, also used as a laxative, lowers cholesterol by keeping the cholesterol in food from entering your body. Since different products are formulated in different strengths, follow label directions to determine the right dosage for you.

What about food cures to achieve a normal cholesterol range? There is evidence that orange juice, oat bran, fish oil, olive oil, raw onion, hawthorn berry teas (popular in Chinese and Korean cuisine), almonds, pecans, macadamias, and pistachios all can lower LDL and raise HDL, provided you consume them as part of a restricted-calorie diet. Stuffing yourself and then eating a little bit of healthy food won’t lower your LDL or raise your HDL, but replacing high-calorie foods with these healthier selections may.

How to Lower Cholesterol – Make a Difference in Your Cholesterol Readings in Thirty Days

In the United States, a majority of adults and nearly all diabetics eventually are advised they need to take prescription medication for cholesterol. While sometimes medication absolutely is required, there are many borderline cases that respond to at-home management of high cholesterol. Whichever method you choose, be sure you verify your results with at-home cholesterol testing as well as regular checkups at the doctor’s office.

Here are the three things everyone needs to know about how to lower cholesterol.

  1. Lowering cholesterol is less about what you eat than it is about how much you eat.
  2. Only about 15 per cent of the body’s cholesterol is digested from food. Over 85 per cent of the body’s cholesterol is made “in-house,” primarily in the liver, the lining of the intestines, and the gonads, although every cell in the body is capable of making the cholesterol it needs from triglycerides.

    Triglycerides are the transport form of fat, enabling fatty acids to travel through a watery bloodstream, and the storage form of sugar, the way fat cells pack away excess calories from high-carb diets. Since 85 per cent of your cholesterol is made from triglycerides, it’s more productive to focus on lowering your triglycerides than it is to try to avoid eating foods that have cholesterol in them. Limiting your total calories is at least as important, and usually more important, than avoiding high-cholesterol foods.

  3. Lower cholesterol readings may not necessarily show up on your next lab visit.
  4. LDL cholesterol levels, in particular, go up as the temperature of your home or workplace goes up. For every 5° C/9° F the temperature rises, LDL levels go up about 10 mg/dl (0.26 mmol/L). If you work outdoors during the summer, changes in your cholesterol levels may be extreme. So if you start a program or a medication to lower your cholesterol in late spring and it doesn’t seem to be working in early summer, the problem may be changes in the seasons, not a failure of your diet or prescription medication.

  5. Some natural products have a lot of benefit for your heart, but don’t necessarily lower your cholesterol.
  6. Fish oil, for example, can indirectly lower your cholesterol if you happen to have started with high triglycerides. Lab tests usually don’t pick this improvement up because LDL cholesterol is not measured directly. It’s estimated as a percentage of the “leftovers” after triglycerides and HDL are taken out your total blood lipids. The way the equation works, a big improvement in your triglycerides, either by diet or by taking products like fish oil, can lead to an apparent rise in LDL. But over a period of months-or if your doctor measures apo-A and apo-B, which are better indicators of cardiovascular risk-the effects on your cholesterol will be apparent.

Two herbal remedies have measurable effects on cholesterol. Red yeast rice, which makes the exact same chemical, lovastatin, that is used to make the cholesterol medication Mevacor, will almost always lower both total cholesterol and LDL, although it is no better for your body than Mevacor or other stating drugs. The herb hawthorn, on the other hand, does not lower cholesterol very much, but it lowers blood pressure and slows but strengthens the heartbeat, which are also important to your heart health.