Statin drugs, make up the majority of cholesterol lowering medications prescribed by physicians. These statins like all medications have benefits and side effects. Studies are clear that statin drugs can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease by 25%-35%. However, what if you cannot take these medications due to unfavorable side effects or they are contraindicated? Well, take your diet in your own hands and follow these 10 steps to lowering your cholesterol.
1) Consume Phytosterols:
Phytosterols are the plant version of cholesterol & block the absorption of dietary cholesterol while increasing resorption of bile cholesterol from the intestinal tract. Because they are not recognized by the human body, after they have decreased “bad” cholesterol retention, they are simply excreted back into the colon.
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2) Eat Soy Protein:
Phytoestrogens contained in soy products, known as isoflavones, are plant-derived chemicals that are structurally very similar to the hormone estrogen (men can take with no negative side effects). Estrogen has been known to prevent heart disease in premenopausal women by increasing effectiveness and number of LDL cholesterol receptrors on liver. This chemical is also a strong antioxidant.
3) Eat Garlic:
Fresh garlic lowers LDLs through decreasing HMG-CoA reductase activity, which is an enzyme in cholesterol synthesis in the liver, and inhibits this activity. It also reduces the number of cholesterol and fat carrying lipoprotiens (chylomicrons) that are formed in intestinal cells and transport cholesterol from cells to the liver. It can also slow or stop atherosclerosis.
4) Take Metamucil or Konsyl (Psyllium Husk):
Psyllium husk, the active ingredient in Metamucil, is one of the most powerful LDL-lowering viscous soluble fibers in existence. A high fiber diet has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease. Psyllium also traps undesirable bile acids within the intestine, which means the liver must pull more LDLs in from the bloodstream to compensate. It also prevents cholesterol and fat from entering the intestinal cells by expanding the unstirred water layer, which increases the barrier for diffusion of fat and cholesterol across the intestinal wall.
5) Eat Oatmeal and/or Barley:
Whole grains are so beneficial because they contain naturally occurring components and plant hormones that help lower cholesterol. The key element is beta-glucan, which is insoluble and acts as an intestinal sponge, soaking up and driving out LDL’s within the body. (Examples: steel-cut oats, groats, rolled oats, oat bran). Barley has been shown to decrease plasmacholesterol and other lipids. It may be even more effective at lowering cholesterol when compared to oats due to the higher beta-glucan content.
6) Eat Flaxseeds:
Omega-3 fatty acids contained in flaxseeds have an anti-inflammatory property that decreases risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Flaxseeds also contain lignan, which is an extremely powerful antioxidant that inhibits the process of atherosclerosis and cut down LDL cholesterol.
7) Eat Apples:
Pectin, the soluble fiber contained in apples, works through a similar pathway as the other soluble fibers. It forms a thick, gel-like matter in the intestine and is consumed in the colon by healthful bacteria in order to produce short-chain fatty acids. In this case, acetate is formed. Acetate is a fatty acid that is thought to decrease blood clotting. Apples also contain antioxidants, which help prevent atherosclerosis.
8) Eat Beans, Peas, Lentils:
Beans are an excellent source of fiber, plant protein, and are virtually fat-free. Beans’ soluble fibers and innate sugars feed healthful bacteria in the colon that generate short-chain fatty acids, which hinder cholesterol production in the liver. Beans also prevent cholesterol diffusion in a similar fashion as Metamucil. Beans also play an important role in decreasing glucose absorption, which yields a decreased amount of insulin and, in turn, a decrease production of lipoproteins and VLDL secretion from the liver.
9) Eat Almonds:
Almonds contain a high amount of monounsaturated fat, which incorporate themselves into the core of the LDL, allowing them to have a higher affinity for binding to their receptor, which means increased LDL clearance. Also, almonds are high in fiber, which is linked to lower cholesterol and a reduced risk for heart disease. Antioxidants contained in almonds help to prevent atherosclerosis as well.
10 ) Walk:
The act of walking lowers LDL cholesterol, prevents diabetes, helps increase longevity, reduces the risk of contracting certain types of cancer, enhances later life ability and will dramatically decrease risk of senility. It is equally unhealthy to avoid exercise as it is to smoke cigarettes! It increases the resistance of LDLs to oxidation, which protects against atherosclerosis. *Walking also decreases likelihood of obesity, coronary artery disease, diabetes melletis, hypertension, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimers and certain types of cancer. Physical activity also can assist with depression and anxiety as well as assist in better sleep patterns
Twice Per Day- Servings
Eat 2-3 grams (2,000-3,000 mg) per day, at two meals, taken in margarine, protein shake, other foods, and/or capsules.
Eat 20-25 grams per day; aim for at least two servings of soy products per day. (Soy milk, tofu, edamame, soy nuts, soy butter, soy burgers, etc.)
Eat one clove of fresh garlic and take 1 Kyolic One Per Day 1,000 mg capsule daily.
Psyllium Husk (Metamucil)
Eat 3-10 grams psyllium (either 6-18 capsules or 1-2 tablespoons powder) per day. Work up to 3 grams in the morning and 3 grams at night.
Once Per Day
Eat one cup of oatmeal or barley with added oat bran per day (3 grams of beta-glucan).
Eat 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds every day.
Eat one apple every day.
Beans, Peas, Lentils
Eat ½ cup of some type of beans, peas or lentils every day. (Garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, split peas, etc.)
Eat 1 ounce of almonds or walnuts every day or 2 tablespoons of almond butter.
Walk at least 30 minutes every day, preferably at a fast pace.
Resource: Brill, J.A. Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks – Without Prescription Drugs. New York: Three Rivers Press.
What to do with this information
South Denver Cardiology wants to remind you to keep eating healthy! Keep up to date with heart healthy recipes and nutrition, staying fit tips and healthy thinking on our website and blog. If you would like more information on a heart healthy diet or how to reduce your cholesterol Susan Buckley RD is on staff to serve you. See our web site to schedule a consultation.