Lower Cholesterol Without Statins Our relationship with cholesterol is one of those love-hate ones. Our body needs cholesterol for a variety of essential metabolic processes, while at the same time an excess of “bad” cholesterol raises risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. The key is to keep your blood levels in a healthy range to prevent disease and to allow your body to function properly. This is not always an easy task to achieve, but with proper guidance, information and some self-discipline, there are safe and effective ways to achieve this balance and lower your risks. Where does cholesterol come from?Blood CholesterolDietary Cholesterol
This is the “natural” cholesterol found in our body. Most of it is produced in the liver and it helps our cells do their jobs. It is essential for many metabolic processes, including the healthy functioning of our hormones. This is the cholesterol we eat. Dietary cholesterol raises our blood cholesterol somewhat. What really sends our blood cholesterol through the roof are foods full of saturated fats and/or trans fats.
Foods Rich in Saturated Fats Red meat, butter, cheese, cream, whole milk, palm and coconut oil
Foods Rich in Trans Fats Any food with partially hydrogenated fat in the ingredient list, which often includes margarines, shortenings, baked goods like donuts and biscuits, and many snack foods like cookies, crackers, and chips.
APrescription drugs Statins have been clearly shown to reduce blood cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis, or heart disease. They achieve this by essentially preventing the liver from making cholesterol by blocking an enzyme called HMG CoA Reductase.
What Statins Can Do They essentially prevent the liver from making cholesterol by blocking an enzyme called HMG CoA Reductase.
What Statins Can’t Do The liver has tiny receptors that can “capture” some of our excess bad cholesterol particles and remove them from the bloodstream. Unfortunately, these receptors are reduced in number and effectiveness in people who eat a lot of saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol, and there’s little statins can do to counteract this process. Aside from high cholesterol levels, there are other factors impacting your coronary health (blood sugar, insulin resistance, belly fat, blood pressure, triglyceride levels, etc.) None of these is impacted by statins.
Side Effects Some people taking statins have muscle pain (and muscle inflammation), liver damage, memory loss, elevated liver enzymes, fuzzy thinking and forgetfulness. There is also growing concern of a link between statin use and type 2 diabetes.
Saturated Fat Foods Butter, fatty flesh like red meat, full-fat and low-fat dairy products, palm oil, and coconut oil.
Trans Fat Foods Anything with partially hydrogenated fat in the Ingredient List.
Dietary Cholesterol Egg yolks, organ meats, and shellfish.
2Daily Servings of Nonfat Dairy Foods Only
<4ozLimit Intake: Meat, Poultry and Fish To No More Than 3.5 to 4 Ounces Per Day
Best ChoiceOmega-3-rich fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and trout) at least 2 times weekly. If you’re using canned fish, such as canned sardines, select very-low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties.Good ChoiceMost other fish, shelled mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops).Satisfactory Choices Crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish), poultry (white meat, skinless), game meat (bison, venison, elk, ostrich), optimally free-range and grass-fed.Poor ChoiceRed meats are the least desirable choice because they not only tend to have the highest proportion of saturated fats, they are also higher in heme iron, which likely raises the risk of type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Red meats also alter the gut’s microbiome, which recent research indicates may raise cardiovascular disease risk. For optimal heart-health results, limit Satisfactory Choices to no more than once weekly and Poor Choices to no more than once monthly.2 Eat a lot of fiber-rich foods, especially foods high in soluble fiber
Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber
Vegetables Rich in Soluble Fiber
Fruit Rich in Soluble Fiber
They’re full of nutritional riches and are a very healthy, protein-packed alternative to meat. Legumes help lower LDL cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
NUTS AND SEEDS Nuts and seeds have been proven to modestly lower LDL cholesterol levels. To avoid blood-pressure raising salt, choose raw or dry-roasted, unsalted varieties. If you’re trying to lose excess weight, stay away from nuts and seeds.