Guest post provided by Rebecca S. Reeves, DrPH, RD, FADA
2013 is shaping up to be a year of prevention, which should have you thinking about how well you are treating your own heart. If you are trying to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, or your doctor has said that you need to lower your cholesterol, you are probably trying to keep a close eye on your diet.
This does not mean that you must avoid all your favorite foods. What it might take is substituting different ingredients in a recipe or stir-frying a food rather than deep fat frying it.
Learning the difference in the types of fat that we eat and where these fats are found in our food is also important to controlling the cholesterol levels in our blood. Taking precautions today could prevent a heart condition tomorrow.
Here are some of the most common myths and facts that you should know.
Continue reading ‘Common myths about cholesterol, foods and fats’ »
Do you take statin medication? If so, when did your doctor recommend you being statins? Was it when your lab results found your LDL cholesterol levels to be elevated?
LDL cholesterol has been the measure used to determine when lipid lowering therapy is needed…and statins are often the therapy started.
Research is beginning to question if LDL is the best measure for knowing if cholesterol treatment is warranted to reduce heart disease risk.
Continue reading ‘Heart Disease Risk and Cholesterol Levels’ »
There are some very interesting questions coming out regarding the benefits of HDL cholesterol.
High HDL cholesterol has always been encouraged because people with higher HDL cholesterol levels have a reduced risk for heart disease. If you have low HDL cholesterol levels it’s likely that your doctor recommended you to boost levels through diet and exercise or by taking niacin supplements. This is due to the long held belief that HDL cholesterol reduces heart disease risk by “picking up” artery clogging cholesterol from circulation.
A new study utilizing modern genetic testing is challenging this theory, finding that there may not be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between reduced heart disease risk and high HDL cholesterol levels. Study findings indicate the high HDL levels themselves may not be protective on their own. These high HDL levels may be an indicator of something else reducing heart disease risk.
Continue reading ‘Why is HDL Cholesterol Considered to be ‘Good’?’ »
In previous posts we’ve covered the health benefits of a couple different nuts:
Walnuts Equal Healthier Blood Vessels
Nuts are an excellent source of nutrients that provide heart health benefits, such as fiber, protein, and certain minerals.
Let’s turn our attention to almonds.
Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fat. This is a heart healthy fat in that it does not cause an insulin response or lead to increases in blood cholesterol. A study has shown a decrease in cholesterol levels, including LDL cholesterol, when almonds are consumed as a regular part of the diet.
Almonds also provide vitamin E in the form of gamma tocopherol and glutathione. Both of these nutrients act as antioxidants to prevent cellular damage associated with free radicals.
Almonds also contain calcium to support bone and tooth health, along with healthy blood pressure levels.
A one-ounce, 164-calorie serving of almonds, not only provides vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and calcium, but also magnesium, fiber, protein, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.
Add Almonds to Your Diet
Here are a few tips for adding almonds to your diet:
Continue reading ‘Almonds for a Healthy Heart’ »
For quite awhile now, I’ve been encouraging you to look at more than just your standard cholesterol panel to assess your risk for heart disease. I’m going to share the findings of an expert panel that supports this need.
In the Journal of Clinical Lipidology a panel of specialists concluded that patients considered at intermediate risk for heart disease be tested for C-reactive protein. It’s likely this applies to a majority of the U.S. population since overweight and obesity is rampant. Family history, diet, exercise, and tobacco use also factor into determining if you are at intermediate risk.
Just evaluating total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol does not work well for predicting heart attack and stroke risk, especially for patients with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. It’s even more difficult to evaluate risk if a patient is using cholesterol lowering statin medications.
C-Reactive protein is a marker for inflammation and is associated with plaque build up in blood vessel walls. The plaque build up in coronary arteries leads to narrow arteries, which can cause chest pain. If these arteries rupture you are dealing with a heart attack or stroke.
Continue reading ‘C-Reactive Protein Good Heart Attack Predictor’ »
The National Institutes of Health stopped a clinical trial studying a blood lipid treatment 18 months early. The study found that adding high dose, extended release niacin to statin treatment for patients with heart disease did not reduce cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.
This study was referred to as AIM-HIGH (Atherothrombosis Intervention in Metabolic Syndrome with Low HDL/High Triglycerides: Impact on Global Health) and the 3414 participants were selected because they were at risk for cardiovascular events despite having a well controlled LDL cholesterol level. They were at increased risk due to a history of heart disease combined with low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. Low HDL levels and high triglycerides are both linked to increased risk of cardiovascular events.
Study participants were divided into two groups.
Continue reading ‘Niacin–Statin Study Didn’t Give Desired Results: Stopped Early’ »
Metamucil is a rich source of psyllium husk. Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber which works to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Currently the American Heart Association recommends everyone consume 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber daily. The average American only consumes 15 grams of fiber daily.
How much soluble fiber?
Continue reading ‘Metamucil to Lower LDL Cholesterol’ »
New results indicate individuals with low LDL cholesterol have a longer lifespan.
A study published in the Annals of Surgery and conducted at the University of Minnesota Medical School between 1975 and 2000 evaluated 838 heart attack survivors between the ages of 38-60 years-old. Out of the 838 participants 417 were instructed to go on a diet and 421 were instructed to diet combined with a partial ileal bypass surgery which bypasses the small intestine and location for cholesterol absorption. This is not a common surgery and typically reserved for high-risk heart attack patients who cannot tolerate statin medications. After 25 years, the participants in the second group had an increased life expectancy of one year.
Continue reading ‘Lower LDL Cholesterol and Live Longer’ »
I think it’s fairly well known that walnuts provide some heart health benefits, but were you aware pistachio’s can be a good choice as well?
Pistachios are a good source of many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of pistachios provides:
6 grams protein
2.9 grams fiber
73.4 mg omega 3 fatty acids
59.9 mg phytosterols
Pistachios are also a good source of copper, manganese, vitamin B6, thiamin, magnesium, and phosphorous. They also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids associated with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.
But, how do pistachios positively impact cholesterol and heart health?
Continue reading ‘Lower LDL Cholesterol with Pistachios’ »
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found the number of individuals in the U.S. living with elevated LDL cholesterol levels has decreased by about 1/3 between 1999-2000 and 2005-2006. These findings are based on the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) with just over 7,000 participants over the age of 20. According to CDC scientists the rate of high LDL levels decreased from 31.5% to 21.2%. Individuals included in the study were not taking statin medications, although self-reported use of statin medications increased from 8% to 12.4%.
This report is a good sign that more individuals are taking steps to control cholesterol levels, such as monitoring saturated and trans fat intake. However, if you are living with elevated LDL cholesterol what’s important is that you take steps to control your levels to reduce your heart disease risk. Here is a post where you can learn more about lowering LDL cholesterol:
Lower LDL Cholesterol Steps
Please share your thoughts on the study results below.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps