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.
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.
There is a growing consensus in the medical community that the best predictor of heart disease risk is non-HDL cholesterol. Non-HDL contains not only LDL but all other particles that are “bad.” Just like LDL, these particles contribute to the build-up of cholesterol-filled plaques in the walls of our arteries.
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.
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.
Follow Pritikin's 6 dietary and lifestyle tips to lower bad cholesterol levels naturally
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.
Egg yolks, organ meats, and shellfish.
Daily Servings of Nonfat
Dairy Foods Only
Limit Intake: Meat, Poultry and Fish
To No More Than 3.5 to 4 Ounces Per Day
Omega-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.
Most other fish, shelled mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops).
Crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish), poultry (white meat, skinless), game meat (bison, venison, elk, ostrich), optimally free-range and grass-fed.
Red 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.
to no more than once weekly and Poor Choices to no more than once monthly.
Foods Rich in
- Beans (also called legumes) such as pinto beans, black beans, and peas
- Oat bran
- Sweet potatoes
- All other potatoes
Vegetables Rich in
- Acorn squash
- Brussels sprouts
- Butternut squash
Fruit Rich in
- Passion fruit
- Beans (for example, pinto beans, red beans, white beans, and soybeans)
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.
Benefits: improving your cholesterol profile, preventing diseases epidemic in industrialized societies (type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, gout, and many types of cancer).
Limit even the so-called “good“ fats like olive oil. Any fat is dense with calories, which means heavy consumption can easily lead to a heavy body.
Sterols are naturally occurring substances found in plants. A daily intake of 1 to 2 grams of plant sterols has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Your best choice is supplements, such as CholestOff (by Nature Made), because they do not have the calories, sugar, trans fats, and/or salt of many foods enriched with plant sterols.
Psyllium husks are seed grains sold as a soluble fiber supplement and laxative. Metamucil is the best known brand, but psyllium is also available in less expensive store brands. Studies have shown that 9 to 10 grams daily of psyllium, the equivalent of about 3 teaspoons daily of Sugar-Free Metamucil, reduced LDL levels.
To get the cholesterol-lowering benefit, take 1 teaspoon with water no more than 15 to 30 minutes before each meal.
Yes, they'll likely help you lower bad levels of cholesterol, but there are many other heart disease risk factors, like high blood sugar and excess weight, that they do not impact. Give yourself the best chance of living heart-attack-free by adopting a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin.
Pritikin provides education, healthy meals and exercise classes to help reduce cholesterol.
Among more than 4,500 people attending the Pritikin Longevity Center for three weeks, LDL cholesterol fell on average 23%. Non-HDL cholesterol plummeted 24%.