From Coach Toria Lee

Total Cholesterol (Lipid Profile)

Our bodies typically make all of the cholesterol that it requires to function properly.  Serum cholesterol is found in the blood stream. Dietary cholesterol is present in food, especially those that are high in saturated fats, mostly meat, dairy, poultry and seafood. Serum cholesterol is affected by consumed food, genetic makeup and how effectively the body creates LDL and eliminates it. Cholesterol levels often elevate with age and menopause. Elevated cholesterol low density lipoproteins are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, circulatory problems and osteoporosis.

LDL, Low Density Lipoproteins, referred to as “bad cholesterol, contain the greatest percentage of cholesterol and are responsible for depositing cholesterol on the artery walls when found in the blood in high levels.

HDL, High Density Lipoproteins, is called “good cholesterol” because it protects against heart disease by helping to remove excess cholesterol deposited in the arteries.  High levels seem to be associated with lower incidence of coronary heart disease.

Top 5 lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol

1. Lose body fat

Carrying extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Losing as little as 5 to 10 % of your body weight can significantly help reduce cholesterol levels. Start by taking an honest, thorough look at your eating habits and daily routine. Consider your challenges to weight loss and ways to overcome them.

Prepare your own food ahead of time so you are not reliant on eating out or fast food. If you tend to eat when you are bored or frustrated, take a walk or do something active instead. Choose your snacks carefully, especially when relaxing at home. Try munching on veges instead of potato chips, as you watch TV. Sit down and take time to enjoy your food rather than mindlessly stuff yourself.

Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator, parking in the back of the lot and taking 10 minute activity breaks throughout your work day. Do something active while watching television. Turn up the music and dance around your house. Get your family and friends involved. Look at exercise as something you GET to do, not something you have to do!

2. Eat heart-healthy foods

Making just a few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health. Choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, found in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. You should get less than 7 % of your daily calories from saturated fat. Choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and monounsaturated fats — found in olive, peanut and canola oils. Extra virgin olive oil is preferred.

Eliminate trans-fats found in most margarines and shortenings, fried foods and many commercial baked products, such as cookies, crackers, snack cakes and non-dairy creamers. Read the ingredients list. You can tell if a food has trans-fat in it if it contains partially hydrogenated oil. Do not rely on packages that are labeled “trans-fat-free.” In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving, it can be labeled “trans-fat-free.” Even though those amounts seem small, they can add up quickly if you eat a lot of foods that have a small amount of trans-fat in them.

Trans-fats

Limit the cholesterol in your food. Aim for no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day — less than 200 mg if you have heart disease or diabetes. The most concentrated sources of cholesterol include organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products. Use lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes and skim milk, or non-animal, milk alternatives (soy, almond, rice, hemp, or coconut milk) instead.

Select whole grains. Various nutrients found in whole grains promote heart health. Use whole-grain breads, whole-wheat, rice, corn or quinoa-based pastas and flours, as well as brown rice and other whole grain side dishes.

Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Snack on seasonal fruits. Experiment with veggie-based casseroles, soups and stir-fries.

Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your LDL cholesterol. Some types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in Mackerel, Lake trout, Herring, Sardines, Albacore tuna, Salmon and Halibut. Unfortunately, fish can also be a source of Mercury and other contaminants, so eat no more than 3 servings per week and consider plant-based options. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds.

3. Exercise on most days of the week

Exercise can reduce cholesterol and LDL levels. Moderate physical activity can also help raise HDL cholesterol. Work up to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. Adding physical activity, even in 10-minute intervals several times a day can help you to lose weight. Just be sure that you can keep up the changes you decide to make. Consider:

Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour; riding your bike to work; taking stairs instead of the elevator ; swimming laps; playing a favorite sport; lifting weights, circuit training with strength and cardiovascular exercises; jumping on a trampoline; doing a few sit ups while watching television.      To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group.

4. Avoid tobacco of all kinds

5. Drink alcohol only in moderation

Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

Other factors that have been related to high cholesterol include sustained stress and tension, drinking large amounts of coffee, lack of sunlight and certain medications like steroids, high-dose oral contraceptives, diuretics, levodopa and Beta-blockers.

Top 5 foods to lower your numbers

1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol.

2. Fish and omega 3 and/or essential fatty acids

Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, omega-3 fatty acids, reduce the risk of sudden death.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. You should bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you don’t like fish, you can also get essential fatty acids from foods like ground flaxseed, canola oil, borage oil, black current seed oil and primrose oil.

3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. Eating about a handful (1.5 ounces) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts you eat aren’t salted or coated with sugar. Raw almonds are preferred. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your LDL cholesterol without affecting your HDL cholesterol.

Try using about 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. Sauté vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread. Olive oil is high in calories, so don’t eat more than the recommended amount.

The cholesterol-lowering effects of olive oil are even greater if you choose extra-virgin olive oil, meaning the oil is less processed and contains more heart-healthy antioxidants. But keep in mind that “light” olive oils are usually more processed than extra-virgin or virgin olive oils and are lighter in color, not fat or calories.

5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. Plant-based margarines that do not contain hydrogenated fats, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day. Plant sterols or stanols in fortified foods don’t appear to affect levels of triglycerides or of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Other foods and natural supplements that have shown to be helpful in lowering cholesterol include:

Apple pectin

Chinese red yeast rice extract

Coenzyme Q10

Fiber (oat bran or guar gum)

Green tea

Garlic

L-Carnitine

Lecithin

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Spirulina

Vitamin C

Chitosan

Curcumin

Artichoke extract

Gugulipid

Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol)

Selenium

Sources:

www.MayoClinic.com

Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC