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LOWERING YOUR CHOLESTROL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT IS CHOLESTROL, LDL & HDL?
Cholesterol has been around for thousands of years. It’s a
natural function of the human body. The modern story of cholesterol
and how it affects us today, actually began during a government study
The Pentagon sent pathologists to Korea to examine the bodies
of servicemen who lost their lives during the war. Autopsies were
The results were astounding to the medical community of that
time. Normally, no one under 35 dies of coronary heart disease.
More than 75 percent of the soldier had yellow deposits of
atherosclerotic plaque on their artery walls. The average age of these
soldiers was 21 contradicting the assumption that such artery clogging
deposits were only prevalent in older men.
The results of the Army pathologists rocked the medical
community. Prior to these autopsies, doctors had no idea how early
Not long after this discovery, a name was given to the major
contributor to the buildup of plaque and to heart disease risk –
cholesterol. More recent studies have shown that for every 1 percent
drop in cholesterol levels, there is a 2 percent decrease in the risk of a
Since those original studies, the risk of heart disease stemming
from cholesterol has exploded. In 2002 it was estimated that 107
million American adults now have a blood cholesterol level high
enough to require medical advice. Unfortunately, the numbers keep
Despite this epidemic problem, there is good news. You can do
something about the problem and that’s what this guide is all about.
In plain English, we will take a laymen’s look at cholesterol, the
causes, effects and what you can do to reverse the negative impact it
WHAT IS CHOLESTROL?
As mentioned above, cholesterol in and of itself, is a natural
function of the human body. Every living being requires a certain
amount of fat to exist. Like everything in nature, it only becomes a
The processing of fat begins when it gets absorbed in the
intestines. From there it heads to the liver. The fat requires a
delivery system to the rest of the body to be used immediately but
also to be stored in fat cells for future use.
In order for the fat to enter the delivery system, while it is in the
liver it is split into two different types of fat, cholesterol and
Once this transformation takes place, the two types of fat
(cholesterol and triglycerides) are packed into vehicles for carrying the
fat to the fat cells throughout the body using the bloodstream. These
Under normal circumstances, the bloodstream does a very
efficient job of carrying the LDL and HDL Lipoproteins throughout the
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat like substance that presents itself
naturally in cell walls and membranes everywhere in your body. Your
body uses cholesterol to produce many hormones. It also uses it to
produce vitamin D and the bile acids that help to digest fat.
Where problems arise is when there is an over abundance of
cholesterol in your bloodstream. The cholesterol deposited by the LDL
leads to a narrowing of the blood vessels.
If this occurs, the excess can be deposited in the arteries of the
heart which could result in stroke or heart disease. This is called
atherosclerosis. This is why LDL is known as “bad cholesterol.”
HDL usually collects the bad cholesterol and takes it back to the
liver. That’s why HDL is known as “good cholesterol.”
Cholesterol is not the only cause of heart disease, but it is a
contributing factor. Here’s how it works.
Cholesterol can only attach to the inner lining of the artery if it
Once the lining of the artery is damaged, white blood cells rush
to the site followed by cholesterol, calcium and cellular debris. The
muscle cells around the artery are altered and also accumulate
The fatty streaks in the arteries continue to develop and bulge
into the arteries. This cholesterol “bulge” is then covered by a scar
that produces a hard coat or shell over the cholesterol and cell
mixture. It is this collection of cholesterol that is then covered by a
The buildup of plaque narrows the space in the arteries through
which blood can flow, decreasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients.
This cuts down the supply of blood and oxygen to the tissues that are
The elasticity of the blood vessel is reduced and the arteries’
ability to control blood pressure is compromised. If there is not
enough oxygen carrying blood passing through the narrowed arteries,
the heart may give you a pain that is called angina.
The pain usually happens when you exercise because at that
time your heart requires more oxygen. Usually it is felt in the chest or
the left arm and shoulder, although it can happen without any
Plaque can vary in size as well as shape. All through the
coronary arteries you can find many small plaques that cover less than
half of an artery opening. Some of these plaques are completely
invisible in the tests that doctors use to identify heart disease.
The medical community used to think that the primary concern
was the larger plaques. They thought these posed a greater threat
because of their size and that they were more likely to cause a
complete blockage of the coronary arteries.
While it is true that the larger plaques are more likely to cause
angina, it is the smaller plaques that are packed with cholesterol and
covered by scars that are more dangerous. They are considered
unstable and prone to ruptures or bursting releasing their load of
cholesterol into the bloodstream. This causes immediate clotting
within the artery. If the blood clot blocks the artery totally, it will stop
the blood flow and a heart attack occurs.
The muscle on the farter side of the occurring clot fails to get the
oxygen it needs and begins to die. This kind of damage can be
Unfortunately, most people aren’t even aware they have
atherosclerosis until they have a heart attack or stroke. It is possible
to have up to 80 percent closure of the arteries without ever feeling a
Most people begin to develop cholesterol driven atherosclerosis
as children and it’s unusual if you find an adult in the United States
who does not have some degree of atherosclerosis.
Diagnosing cholesterol levels require a simple blood test to
determine the levels of LDL and HDL. Cholesterol tests can be tricky,
however. Simple screening that is done without “fasting,” measures
only the total cholesterol and the HDL, the “good” cholesterol. It will
give you a ballpark figure, but far from accurate.
The complete test is called a “lipid profile,” and even that can
vary from test to test. This test will measure total cholesterol, HDL,
For truly accurate numbers, you should not eat, or drink
anything other than water for 12 hours before testing. Vigorous
exercise should be avoided for 24 hours before testing and you need
to make certain that whoever tests you is made aware of any
medications you may be taking as they will also affect the results.
Okay, now that you have accurate numbers, what do they
mean? Before we discuss the numbers and their meanings, we need
Dietary cholesterol means the cholesterol that you eat. The
American Heart Association recommends no more than 300 milligram
per day. Most food labels in the United States list cholesterol. The
three terms, blood cholesterol, serum cholesterol and total cholesterol
mean the same thing – the total cholesterol in your body. This is what
is measured when you have a cholesterol test.
Your test results will come in with three numbers:
For total cholesterol the National Cholesterol Education Program
classifies levels below 200 milligrams/dl (milligrams per deciliter) as
“desirable.” A level between 200 and 239 is “borderline high.”
Triglyceride levels over 400 milligrams/dl are considered “high”
and levels over 1,000 milligrams/dl are considered “very high.”
For LDL, the desirable level is less than 130 milligrams/dl. The
“borderline high” level is 130 to 159. the “high risk” level is 160 and
Higher is better for HDL. For HDL, the numbers are lower
because there is less HDL in the blood. Anything lower than 35
milligrams/dl is considered “high risk.” If your HDL is very high, say
over 60, your risk of heart disease is reduced.
The LDL, however, is the “bad” cholesterol and the most
important factor in predicting heart attack. For LDL, lower is better
preferably less than 160. It’s best to keep the level around 130.
If you recall, we mentioned that cholesterol can only attach to
the inner lining of the artery if it has been damaged. How does that
Evidence points to “free radical” damage as being one of the
culprits of arterial wall damage. Free radicals are found all around us.
They are highly reactive substances like polluted air, radiation, tobacco
smoke, herbicides, and naturally within our own bodies as an offshoot
Free radicals attack and damage cells altering normal cell
activity. You see it around you every day causing metal to rust and
fruit to spoil. This is why we take anti-oxidants like vitamins C, E,
beta-carotene and selenium, to combat the attack of free radicals.
Heredity plays a role in high cholesterol. Your genes can
influence your LDL by affecting how fast it is made and removed from
your blood. There is one particular form of inherited high cholesterol
that will often lead to early heart disease. It is called familial
“hypercholesterolemia” and can play a role in 1 of 500 people.
Weight is a factor in determining your LDL. If you have a high
LDL level and are overweight, losing those pounds may help you to
lower it. Additionally, losing weight also helps to lower triglycerides
Age and sex should be considered as well. Women, before
menopause, usually have total cholesterol levels that are lower than
men. This changes as men and women age. Levels will rise until
reaching age 60 to 65. For women, menopause can cause an increase
in LDL and a decrease in HDL. After the age of 50 women often have
higher total cholesterol levels than men of the same age.
Alcohol plays an odd role in cholesterol levels. It increases HDL
but at the same time it does not lower LDL. The medical community
does not know for certain whether alcohol reduces the risk of heart
disease. We know that too much alcohol can damage the liver and
heart muscle, lead to high blood pressure and raise triglycerides.
There are just too many other risks to even consider the use of
alcoholic beverages used as a way to prevent heart disease just
Stress and personality may contribute to heart disease.
Associating a certain type of personality and heart disease has been
suggested for many years. This goes back to the “Type A” and “Type
B” personality study conducted in 1959.
Type A behavior generally manifests in a chronic sense of time,
urgency, aggressiveness and striving for achievement. Type A people
will drive themselves to meet specific deadlines which are most often
They have feelings of being constantly under pressure and often
multi-task to the point of doing two or three things at one time. To
say that Type A people are “driven” is an understatement. They
consider themselves indispensable. All of these traits add up to a
Over the long term, stress has shown to raise blood cholesterol
levels. The way it does this is by affecting habits. An example is over
indulging in fatty foods as a way of consoling themselves when people
are under stress. The saturated fat and cholesterol in these foods
contribute to high levels of blood cholesterol. We will explore dietary
Type B behavior is characterized by just the opposite set of
traits. Type B people are less preoccupied with achievement, less
rushed and generally more easygoing people.
They don’t allow themselves to be rushed nor have any
particular pressure regarding deadlines. They are less prone to angry
outbursts and seem to be better equipped to making distinctions
Studies completed over a period of eighteen months to two
years with a group of both Type A and Type B people, indicated that
Type A participants had a 31 percent increased risk of developing
This was further substantiated by the discovery of more deposits
of plaque in the coronary arteries of Type A people. Type A behavior
also appears to show an association with other risk factors like
smoking, higher fat levels, increased secretion of adrenaline. All of
which increases the oxygen requirement of the heart muscles and
releasing fatty acids from the body fat.
It is important to note that there are not two different types of
people. Each person is an individual and sorting them into specific
categories do not properly identify them.
We will review the different types of medications available for
the treatment of high cholesterol as well as natural remedies. Your
doctor may decide that you need help in controlling your cholesterol if
you are not able to reduce it using natural treatments.
Even if your doctor prescribes any of these medications, you
must still follow through with healthy lifestyle treatments that we will
There are several different types of medications used to lower
cholesterol. They are called statins, bile acid sequestrants, cholesterol
absorption inhibitors, nicotinic acid agents and fibrates and we will
What are they and how do they work? Statins repress the
enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme controls the rate that
cholesterol produces itself in the body. These drugs can lower
cholesterol from 20 to 60%. They slow the production while they
increase the liver’s ability to withdraw LDL. Statins lower the LDL
levels better than any other type of drug.
They can also produce a modest increase of HDL while
decreasing total cholesterol and triglycerides. Positive results are
usually seen after just 4 to 6 weeks of beginning the medication.
Overall statins are proven for lowering heart attack risks, strokes
and other coronary diseases related to high cholesterol levels. You
You are allergic to statins themselves or their ingredients
You consume excessive amounts of alcohol
Brand names of statins that you might recognize are Lipitor,
Lescol, Mevacor, Altocor, Pravahol, Zocor and Crestor.
There are some drug and/or food interactions that you should be
aware of. More than one quart of grapefruit juice per day can
decrease the ability of the liver to process some statins. More
importantly there may be other medications that can interact and
cause serious side effects. It’s important to let your doctor know
about any other medication you are taking, whether prescription or
non-prescription including vitamins, herbal supplements, medication
for the immune system, other cholesterols drugs, medication for
infections, birth control pills, medication for heart failure, HIV or AIDs,
Side effects from statins are rare. If you experience muscle
soreness, pain, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, discolored urine,
stop taking the medication and contact your doctor immediately.
Bile Acid Sequestrants
Bile acid sequestrants bind with bile acids that contain
cholesterol in the intestines and are then eliminated in the stool. They
are proven to reduce LDL by 10 to 20%. Small doses produce decent
reductions in LDL. They are sometimes prescribed along with a statin
to enhance reduction. When combined, their effects are counted
together and lower LDL by more than 40%. They do not lower
People who are allergic to bile acid sequestrants should not take
this medication nor should anyone who has a medical history of bile
There may be interactions with other drugs so make certain your
doctor has a complete list of all prescribed and non-prescribed
Bile acid sequestrants do not become absorbed from the
gastrointestinal tract. It has been used for 30+ years and is
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
A newer drug class, Zetia is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor
that was approved in 2002 by the FDA. By itself it reduces LDL by 18
to 20%/ It does this by decreasing absorption of cholesterol and other
drugs within this class also mildly lower triglycerides.
Very useful for prescribing to people who cannot take statins or
as another drug that can be taken if those who take statins have side
effects if the statin dose is increased. Adding a cholesterol inhibitor to
a statin increased the lowering effect by a 2 to 3 fold factor.
There may be interactions with other drugs so make certain your
doctor has a complete list of all prescribed and non-prescribed
Nicotinic Acid Agents
Niacin, Niacor and Slo-Niacin are common names for nicotinic
Nicotinic acid, which is also called niacin, is a water soluble
vitamin B. It improves levels of all lipoproteins when the doses are
given far above the vitamin requirement.
Nicotinic acid reduces total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides at
the same time raising HDL. It reduces LDL by 10 to 20%, triglycerides
by 20 to 50% and raises HDL by 15 to 35%. Nicotinamide is a niacin
by product after the body breaks it down. Nicotinamide has no effect
in lowering cholesterol and should not be used in place of nicotinic
Individuals who are allergic to nicotinic acid, and those who have
liver disease, active peptic ulcer, or arterial bleeding, should not use
There are two types of nicotinic acid. One for immediate release
and one for extended release. Immediate release is inexpensive and
widely available without a prescription. However, because of potential
side effects it must not be used for lowering cholesterol without being
Niacin that is extended release is often tolerated better than
crystalline niacin. But has a greater chance of causing damage to the
If you are taking medication for high blood pressure, the results
may be increased while taking niacin. You should have a system
available to monitor your blood pressure when beginning a new niacin
Again, there may be side effects when mixed with other
medications or foods. Discuss with your doctor and make certain you
make him aware of all medications prescribed or otherwise.
Primary effectiveness is lowering triglycerides. There is a lesser
Some serious side effects may occur so be sure and discuss
these with your doctor. If you are allergic to fibrates or have liver
disease or kidney disease, you should not take these agents.
No medications can do a better job than treating your high
cholesterol naturally. And, if you are one of those lucky people who do
not have cholesterol concerns, you may want to take steps to keep it
What can you do to improve your cholesterol levels? Here’s the
list and we will cover each item thoroughly.
Reduce fat in your diet
One of the best plans is covered previously in our chart on
saturated fat. But there is more you can do. Buy the leanest cuts of
meat you can find. Regularly substitute poultry (without the skin) and
fish for red meat. Both are lower in saturated fat. Switch to low fat
cottage cheese and yogurt, reduced fat hard cheeses and skim or 1
Eat no more than four egg yolks a week
Many people don’t have to worry about eating cholesterol.
Normal bodies adjust to increased intake by cutting back on regular
product. However, since one third of Americans are cholesterol
responders their blood cholesterol does go up when they eat
cholesterol. You probably don’t know if you fall into this category so
play it safe. Eat no more than four egg yolks a week. An average egg
yolk contains 213 milligrams of cholesterol!
Eliminate fried foods
Buying low fat is just the beginning. You need to institute low
fat cooking methods to keep the cholesterol from sneaking back in to
Remove fatty skin from chicken and turkey.
Don’t fry foods. Roast, bake, broil, grill or poach them instead.
Use fat free marinades or basting with liquids like wine, tomato
Use olive or canola oils for sautéing or baking. Both are very low
Use diet, tub or squeeze margarines instead of regular. Watch
for the term “hydrogenated,” which means some of the fat is
Eat vegetables and complex carbohydrates
Lowest fat foods of all are vegetables, fruits, grains (rice, barley
and pasta), beans and legumes. Try substituting some of these for
Don’t douse your pasta with butter or your potato with sour
Use tomato base sauces instead of cream base.
Use lemon juice, low sodium soy sauce or herbs to season
Make chili with extra beans and seasonings while leaving out the
If you are overweight, the chances are almost 100% that you
have a problem with high cholesterol. You can lower your LDL and
elevate your HDL just by dropping some pounds. Eat fewer fatty foods
and more fruits, vegetables, grains and beans and it’s a pretty good
bet that you will slowly but surely lose weight.
Include your family
Eating habits carry through to adulthood. Get your children on a
healthy eating pattern early. Don’t begin until they are at least 2
years of age, however. Babies need extra fat calories to develop
Snack all you want
Yep, that’s what we wrote. Snack several times a day on low fat
foods. Yogurt, fruit, vegetables, bagels and whole grain breads and
cereals are excellent for snacking. In fact, there is evidence that
points to lower cholesterol levels in people who eat several small
meals a day. Eating often can keep hormones like insulin from rising
and signaling your body to make more cholesterol. Make certain that
your total intake of calories doesn’t go up when you eat more often.
Nuts to you!
Do you like nuts? If you do, sprinkle a few on your cereal, bake
them into muffins or pancakes or add them to casseroles or stir-fries.
Walnuts and almonds are especially good. Eating about three ounces
of walnuts a day is shown to decrease blood cholesterol levels by 10%
more than an already low fat, low cholesterol diet. Walnuts are high in
fat, but it is mostly polyunsaturated fat, which is the kind that lowers
cholesterol. Another study shows that about three ounces of almonds
which are rich in monounsaturated fat, lowers LDL by 9%!
Aha! All you chocoholics rejoice! Studies indicate that the fat in
chocolate is stearic acid and has no effect on cholesterol levels. The
chocolate does not increase LDL and could raise HDL a wee bit. But
chocolate is still high in fat and calories so don’t go overboard.
Drink fruit juices
You may have read about the low rate of heart disease in
France. It led researchers to believe that the French habit of drinking
red wine with meals contributes to this. Apparently some of the non-
alcoholic ingredients in red wine raises HDL and suppresses the body
Purple grape juice works the same way. It will work like red
wine to lower the fat level in your blood. The LDL lowering effect of
red wine and grape juice comes from a compound that grapes produce
normally to resist mold. The darker the grape juice, the better.
Grapefruit juice does the same thing and it may also help your
body get rid of that nasty plaque that we discussed earlier.
Cholesterol lowering effects of garlic have been demonstrated
repeatedly in people with normal and high cholesterol. Eat all the
garlic you can. It also seems to raise the HDL levels as well. If you
are worried about the odor, take the tablets instead. They have
proven to be nearly as effective as the cooked or raw cloves.
Take niacin – carefully
We discussed niacin earlier. Remember as one of the B
vitamins, it is proven effective for lowering LDL and raising HDL. It is
also one of the cheapest drugs available for lowering cholesterol. But,
without medical supervision it may not be totally safe. A dose high
enough to lower cholesterol can cause extremely high blood sugar or
Take vitamin E
Studies indicate that vitamin E may have a positive impact on
lowering cholesterol when taken in fairly large quantities – up to 800
IU per day. This is more than you can get from your diet alone.
Larger amounts do not seem to cause any harm. Further studies
showed that even amounts of just 25 IU per day helps in preventing
LDL from sticking to blood vessel walls. That amount is only slightly
higher than the recommended daily amount (RDA) of 12 to 15 IU.
It’s interesting to note that even that small amount has an impact on
preventing that hardening of the arteries.
One study indicates that when 56 people took a calcium
carbonate supplement, their total cholesterol went down 4 percent and
their HDL increased 4 percent. That was taking a dosage of 400
milligrams of calcium three times a day with no harmful effects
reported. That does refer to calcium carbonate.
Take a multivitamin – it can’t hurt
While you are building your calcium and vitamin E intake,
remember the old standby, vitamin C. It is the number one immune
system booster and also drives up HDL. A study of people who took
more than 60 milligrams of vitamin C per day (60 milligrams is the
Fill up on fiber
Remember several years back when oat bran was the latest
craze for lowering cholesterol? Later studies arrived at inconsistent
results, but the medical community do agree that soluble fiber, the
kind found in oat bran, does help lower LDL and raise HDL. As little as
three grams per day of fiber from oat bran or oatmeal can be effective.
There are 7.2 grams of soluble fiber per 100 grams of dry oat bran and
five grams of soluble fiber per 100 grams of dry oatmeal. There are
other sources of fiber as well such as barley, beans, peas and many
other vegetables. Corn fiber is also good for reducing LDL, lowering it
by as much as 5 percent in a recent study. Researchers used 20
grams of corn fiber a day. That would be a bit difficult for the average
user when you take into account that one serving of corn has three
grams of corn fiber. But, every little bit does make a difference.
Pectin, which is found in fruits like apples and prunes, reduces
cholesterol even better than oat bran, as does psyllium which is the
fiber you find in many breakfast cereals and bulk laxatives.
Smoking promotes the development of atherosclerosis. Tobacco
smoke is actually more damaging to the heart than the lungs.
Smokers have a higher chance of having a heart attack (three times
greater than nonsmokers) and a greater risk of dying of the attack
(twenty one times greater than nonsmokers.) Tobacco smoke
contains carbon monoxide, which is uniquely damaging to the heart.
Not only does it reduce the amount of oxygen the heart receives, it
also actually damages the cells of the heart, rendering them less able
to produce energy and thereby weakening the heart. In addition to
the dangers of carbon monoxide, there’s the danger of the nicotine.
Nicotine interferes with the electrical impulses that cause the heart to
beat. When the blood flow is compromised, the heart can beat in a
fast, uncontrolled, irregular beats that actually cause a heart attack. If
you smoke, reducing the risks of atherosclerosis is yet another reason
to stop. Even if you have smoked for years, stopping now can still
immediately help combat the development of atherosclerosis.
Reduce sugar intake
Many people don’t realize that sugar affects cholesterol and
definitely affects triglycerides. Sugar stimulates insulin production,
which in turn increases triglycerides. Men in particular, seem to be
sensitive to this effect from sugar. The mineral chromium which helps
to stabilize blood sugar, can also raise the level of HDL. 100 mcg of
chromium three times daily can help to improve your cholesterol
The jury is still out and the different schools of thought are still
at odds regarding the benefit or lack of benefit to consuming alcohol.
This suggestion has nothing to do with our previous discuss on red
wine. A moderate amount may be helpful. The problem is that to
one person a moderate amount might be a glass of wine with their
meal, while to another it might be a half bottle of Scotch! Anything
above the arbitrary “moderate” amount elevates serum cholesterol
triglycerides and your uric acid levels as well as potentially increasing
blood pressure all of which promote heart disease. So, the best bet
There is positive evidence that exercise can lower LDL
cholesterol and boost HDL cholesterol. Both aerobic exercise such as
walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling and cross country skiing and
strength training like lifting weights or using weight machines all
promote the improvement of cholesterol levels. An analysis of 11
studies on weight training showed that this exercise lowered LDL by 13
percent and raised HDL by 5 percent. If you lift weights, use light to
moderate weights and do many repetitions.
We Americans definitely have a love affair with our coffee!
People who drink large amounts of caffeine (more than 6 cups a day)
are far more prone to elevated cholesterol. That connection does not
hold for tea drinkers. Limit your coffee intake to no more than one
cup a day and eliminate caffeinated sodas entirely.
Unfortunately, the medical community is quick to prescribe
another expensive medication to lower cholesterol but they are far less
likely to suggest herbal or homeopathic measures.
Along with getting plenty of fiber there are foods that will help in
promoting the lowering of cholesterol as well as herbs that can further
Foods containing pectin are advantageous to lowering cholesterol
levels. Carrots, apples and the white layer inside of citrus rinds are
Avocado, which is very high in fat, has unexpectedly become a
cholesterol reducer. A study of women who were given a choice of a
high monounsaturated fats (olive oil) along with avocado diet or a
complex carbohydrate consisting of starches and sugars reported
interesting results. In six weeks, the former group on the olive oil and
avocado diet showed an 8.2 percent reduction in cholesterol.
Beans. Gotta love ‘em. They are high in fiber and low in
cholesterol. What more could you ask for! A cup and a half of beans,
or the amount in a bowl of soup, can lower total cholesterol levels by
Garlic. We discussed garlic earlier but it is well worth repeating
here. Use it liberally in your diet. Not only will it help to lower your
cholesterol it is also credited with lowering blood pressure. Be sure
you include generous amounts of garlic as well as onions in your daily
Cayenne pepper (Capsicum minimum) and other plants that
contain the phenolic compound capsaicin have a well demonstrated
effect in lowering blood cholesterol levels, as does the widely used
Caraway is another aromatic spice with demonstrable cholesterol
A whole range of Asian herbal remedies new to western medicine
are proving to be valuable in this field.
Remember when the “low-fat” mantra began? We all jumped in
with both feet and some of us still live on low fat foods, like having a
baked potato but no butter or sour cream. Maybe you eat pasta,
veggies and fat free desserts. So how come you still gain weight?
Good question. Researchers from the National Center for Health
Statistics studied the eating habits of 8.260 adult Americans between
1988 and 1991. They found that Americans have significantly reduced
their fat intake but still packed on extra pounds in recent years.
In fact, a national health and nutrition survey of over 8,000
American adults concludes that one third of the population is
The answer is very simple and right in front of us. So many of
us jumped on the low fat diet and assumed that if it’s low fat it can’t
make us fat. Right? Wrong. We were so involved with the low fat
concept that we forgot to count calories!
If you are eating more calories that your body needs, whether
from fat or carbohydrates, the body will store them as fat. Period.
According to an National Institutes of Health study, by 1990 the
average American was consuming hundreds more calories a day than
There are researchers who believe that eating small amounts of
fat can keep you from overindulging on total calories. Ohio State
University nutrition scientist John Allred points out that dietary fat
causes our bodies to produce a hormone that tells our intestines to
slow down the emptying process. We feel full and are less likely to
Add a little bit of peanut butter to your piece of fruit and it can
Here is another trap to avoid. Reducing fat might not be as
smart as it sounds. Tufts University scientists recently put 11 middle-
aged men and women volunteers on a variety of average reduced and
The results were astounding. Very low fat diets which provided
only 15 percent of fat from calories did have a positive effect on blood
cholesterol and triglyceride levels. By the way, that diet is so strict
there is no way it could be duplicated in real life. But a reduced fat
diet, which is more realistic, only affected those levels if accompanied
Not only that, they concluded that cutting fat without losing
weight actually increased triglyceride levels and decreased HDL!
So while excess fat is not healthy, it isn’t a dirty word either.
Without some fat in our diets, our bodies could not make nerve cells
and hormones or absorb fat soluble vitamins.
If obesity is one of your high cholesterol causes, try losing a
pound a week with a 500 calorie solution. No, we aren’t going to ask
What you can do is easily lose a pound a week just by cutting
500 calories a day out of your diet. You can easily burn 250 of them
just be spending about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, like bicycling,
dancing or just walking. To get rid of the other 250 try cutting out
If there were no other reason to take control of cholesterol,
A recent study found that men with high cholesterol are twice as
likely to be impotent as men whose cholesterol levels are normal or
Researchers recorded cholesterol levels of 3,250 healthy men
between the ages of 25 and 83. Men with total cholesterol higher than
240 milligrams/dl were twice as likely to have trouble achieving or
maintaining an erection than men who cholesterol levels were below
Men who had low levels of HDL were also twice as likely to suffer
from impotence. The same high-fat diet that narrows arteries and
blocks blood flow to your heart also narrows the arteries that carry
blood to your penis. Blood has to be able to get to your penis in order
for you to have an erection. Take control now and you’ll find yourself
improving in this area of your life as well.
The typical American diet consists of fatty meats, processed cold
cuts, dairy products and fried foods. As if that weren’t enough, throw
in commercially baked breads, roles, cakes, chips and cookies. This is
Oddly, ingesting cholesterol will not raise the blood cholesterol
nearly as much as eating a type of fat called “saturated fat.” Like
cholesterol, saturated fat is primarily found in animal products like
cheese, butter, cream, whole milk, ice cream, lard and marbled meats.
Don’t believe that if you just change to vegetable oil you can
eliminate the problem. Some vegetable oils are also high in saturated
fat. Palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter are also
very high in saturated fat. Unfortunately, these are also most often
used in commercially baked goods, coffee creams and nondairy
whipped toppings, so make sure you read labels.
Here is a chart showing the comparisons of different oils.
Although all of the oils listed above (except butter) contain no
measurement of dietary cholesterol, to lower your own cholesterol
level, you must use oils low in saturated fat. Canola oil (7% saturated
fat) is one of the best available cooking oils. Olive oil (14% saturated
One more rule that makes this chart just a bit misleading. Any
fat that is hard at room temperature, such as stick margarine, is not
good for your cholesterol. Margarine has been hydrogenated
(hardened) and that process adds trans fatty acids.
Trans fatty acids may be as bad for you as saturated fat, so stick
margarine is equal to butter as far as your cholesterol is concerned.
Diet and soft margarines are a better bet. Also look for brands of
margarine or shortening that top the ingredient list with oils rich in
Try substituting butter and margarine with a fruit puree. Prune
puree is one particularly popular alternative but try using applesauce
What has the chefs who specialize in nutrition so excited about
using prune puree is the significant difference in fat grams as well as
calories. One cup of prune puree has 407 calories and one gram of
fat. One cup of butter has 1,600 calories and 182 grams of fat. One
cup of oil has 1,944 calories and 218 grams of fat. You can see now
Prunes also contain large amounts of pectin which helps hold in
the air bubbles that make baked good rise. They also have large
amounts of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, which helps keep baked goods
moist and gives them the flaky, tender taste of shortening or butter.
The only drawback to using fruits like applesauce and apricots as
fat substitutes is that baked goods tend to become soggy and moldy
within a day or two so plan quantities accordingly. Also, when baking
with substitutes for fat, use cake flour instead of regular all purpose
flour. It will keep the baked good tender. Don’t over bake your fat
reduced recipes as they do tend to dry out quicker than traditional
Here’s another healthy living tip for you. If you really have
trouble giving up your favorite high fat cheese, try this. Turn it into a
low fat version. Just zap it in the microwave for a minute or two. Pull
it out and drain off the oil. It will significantly reduce the fat content of
the cheese. This will work well for cheese sandwiches, toppings and
other recipes that call for your favorite cheese.
Scientists have discovered that water mixed with fructose
suppresses the appetite better than glucose with water or even diet
drinks. Fructose is the kind of sugar found in fruits. Drink a glass of
fructose rich orange juice a half hour to an hour before a meal. You
will eat fewer calories during the next meal and still feel comfortably
Don’t think that just because we are discussing “fat free”
regimens that you must cut beef completely out of your diet. Too
much of this “good thing” won’t do you any favors. However, you can
have your steak and eat it too, provided it’s a cut that is relatively low
in fat and cholesterol and you do not add fat in the cooking and
When shopping for beef, select grade eye of the round is
considered by some to be just that. A 3 ½ ounce serving has
approximately four grams of fat, less than half of the amount in a 1
ounce serving of cheddar cheese. It also contains 69 milligrams of
cholesterol, among 5the lowest for meats, and it is a good soruce of
Tip round, bottom round and top sirloin are also relatively lean
Turkey breast and chicken breast are prizes as soon as you
remove the skin. Turkey has less than 1 gram of fat and 83
milligrams of cholesterol. Chicken has 3.6 grams of fat and 85
Pork tenderloin is the top choice for the “other white meat,”
while leg shank is the leanest choice among lamb cuts.
Cinnamon has blood-thinning properties that can help lower
cholesterol levels, says Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.A.Sc, director of the
Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque,New Mexico. He suggests this tea:
Mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of trikatu (a lend of
ginger and two kinds of peppers) directly into a cup of hot water, then
Add a teaspoon of honey once the tea has cooled. Dr. Lad says
to drink this beverage twice daily, once in the morning and once in the
evening. Trikatu is available from Ayurvedic practioners and in some
One way to heal many health problems is with a detoxification
diet that cleanses the body and re-establishes the nutritional balance
needed for optimum health, says Elson Haas, M.D., director of the
Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, California, and
author of Staying Healthy With Nutrition. His diet should be practiced
for only three weeks. It is not nutritionally balanced enough for longer
periods. Do not undergo it if you are pregnant or suffer from
deficiency problems marked by fatigue, coldness or heart weakness.
Immediately upon arising, drink two glasses of water, one
of them containing the juice of half of a lemon. Also have one to
two servings of fresh fruit – apples, pears, bananas, grapes or
citrus fruits such as oranges or grapefruit.
About 15 to 30 minutes later, have one to two cups of
cooked oatmeal, brown rice millet, amaranth or untoasted
buckwheat. For flavoring, you can add two tablespoons of fruit
juice or use the Better Butter described below.
Stir ½ cup of canola oil (look for one labeled “cold-
pressed”) into a dish with ½ pound of butter, melted or at least
softened, and refrigerate. Use about one teaspoon per meal for
flavoring and don’t exceed three teaspoons per day.
Have a big bowl (up to four cups) of steamed vegetables –
potatoes, yams, green beans, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, carrots,
beets, asparagus, cabbage or others. Use a variety, including
stems, roots and greens. Better Butter can also be used. Then
refrigerate the water from the vegetables for later use.
Within two hours, slowly drink one to two cups of the
water from the steamed vegetables, mixing each mouthful with
saliva. You can add a little sea salt or kelp for flavoring.
Same as lunch, with a variety of vegetables.
No food at all, but you can have non-caffeinated herbal
teas such as peppermint, chamomile or blends. No caffeinated
Throughout the day, feeling s of hunger should be satisfied
by drinking plenty of water and eating pieces of carrot or celery.
If you are feeling very fatigued or if hunger persists, then you
may add up to four ounces of protein, such as fish, organic
chicken, lentils or garbanzo, mung or black beans. Optimally
this should be eaten mid-afternoon, around 3:00 or 4:00.
Again, this is a detoxification diet only and is to cleanse the body
and re-establish nutritional balance needed for optimum health. Do
not practice the diet for more than three weeks and do not undergo it
if you are pregnant or suffer from deficiency problems.
In a restaurant, opt for steamed, grilled or broiled dishes instead
Vary your veggies.
Eat more dark green veggies, such as
broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens; orange veggies, such as
carrots, sweetpotatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash; and beans and
peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo
Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods. Look for foods low in
saturated fats and trans
fats. Choose and prepare foods and beverages
with little salt (sodium) and/or added sugars (caloric sweeteners).
If you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you’ll
gain about 1 pound in a month. That’s about 10 pounds in a year. The
bottom line is that to lose weight, it’s important to reduce calories and
Know the facts about what you are purchasing to eat. Read
Most packaged foods have a Nutrition Facts label. For a healthier
you, use this tool to make smart food choices quickly and easily. Try
•Keep these low: saturated fats,transfats, cholesterol, and
• Get enough of these: potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C,
• Use the % Daily Value (DV) column when possible: 5% DV or
Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually
consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories
Make your calories count. Look at the calories on the label and
compare them with what nutrients you are also getting to decide
whether the food is worth eating. When one serving of a single food
item has over 400 calories per serving, it is high in calories.
Don’t sugarcoat it. Since sugars contribute calories with few, if
any, nutrients, look for foods and beverages low in added sugars.
Read the ingredient list and make sure that added sugars are not one
of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars (caloric
sweeteners) include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn
Know your fats. Look for foods low in saturated fats,transfats,
and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease (5% DV or
less is low, 20% DV or more is high). Most of the fats you eat should
be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Keep total fat intake
Reduce sodium (salt), increase potassium.
Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of
sodium (about 1 tsp of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high
blood pressure. Most of the sodium people eat comes from processed
foods, not from the saltshaker. Also look for foods high in potassium,
which counteracts some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
Remember there is no substitute for your physician. Make
certain that you clear any new treatments with him before embarking
on any radical health changes you are anticipating.
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