Many Americans and people throughout the world are suffering from hyperlipidemia or more commonly referred to as high cholesterol. Hyperlipidemia is an excess of fatty substances called lipids, mostly cholesterol and triglycerides, which are found in the blood. According to an article published by the CDC in Feb 2010, (1) 16.3% of the U.S. adult population has a high total daily cholesterol. Hyperlipidemia is a risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease and is caused by several factors including, heredity, taking certain medications, and the factor we have the most control over; diet. (2) Researchers have sought out to determine which specific dietary interventions have the most beneficial effect on hyperlipidemia.
An article published in the May 2010 of the American Academy of family Physicians, (3) revealed the following:
“most beneficial changes result from reducing intake of saturated and trans fats; increasing intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats; fortifying foods with plant stanols or sterols; iso-calorically adding tree nuts to the diet; consuming one or two alcoholic drinks per day; and adopting a Portfolio(mainly vegetarian diet), Mediterranean, low-carbohydrate, or low-fat diet” Smaller but still beneficial effects result from reducing intake of dietary cholesterol, increasing intake of soluble fiber and soy protein, and eating fatty marine fish or taking marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Red yeast rice supplements have effects similar to those of statin medications and are better tolerated in some patients. Regular aerobic exercise has beneficial effects on lipid levels, particularly if performed for at least 120 minutes per week. Brief physician counseling will have relatively small effects on unselected patients, so efforts should be concentrated on patients who are motivated and ready to make lifestyle changes.”
Aside from the daily alcohol recommendation, I believe this is solid advice. This information further confirms why a diet free from processed foods, that is low glycemic in nature, contains moderate amounts of healthy fats, combined with exercise, and nutritional supplementation is a winning combination for lowering cholesterol. Below are foods that will help in your quest to improve your health and keep hyperlipidemia at bay.
- Increase fiber intake: Fiber helps lower cholesterol by binding bile, cholesterol and fats so they can be excreted from the body as a waste product. According to the 2011 USDA guidelines (4) the Minimum amount of fiber that should be consumed daily by a female -28 grams and a male 38 grams.
Foods high in fiber: Pinto beans, oats, bran cereal, split peas, kale
- Increasing your omega 3 intake: Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) 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.
All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do. To avoid eating too many fats in your daily intake, replace foods high in saturated fat with nuts. For example, instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad, add a handful of walnuts or almonds.
- Olive oil
Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol but leave your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute 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.
- 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.
Margarines, 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 (237-milliliter) 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), the “good” cholesterol.
Other changes to your diet
For any of these foods to provide their benefit, you need to make other changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Cut back on the cholesterol and total fat — especially saturated and trans fats — that you eat. Saturated fats, like those in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils, raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats, which are sometimes found in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.
- Diet and Exercise in the Management of Hyperlipidemia Kelly R B (Am Fam, Physician, 2010;81 (9): 1097-1102, 1103-1104. http://search.aafp.org/search?q=Diet+and+Exercise+in+the+management+of+hyperlipidemia&site=afp&client=aafp&proxystylesheet=aafp&filter=0&output=xml_no_dtd&getfields=*&hl=en&lr=lang_en&x=9&y=11