• Common Myths about High Cholesterol


    There are a lot of myths that surround the high cholesterol health condition. These myths are passed on through TV shows, through old books, even through out-of-date biology curriculums.

    Today's cutting edge health and science research has shown us that a lot of what we used to know about cholesterol simply isn't true.

    Here are a few of the most common high cholesterol myths.

    1.Eggs Are Bad for Your Cholesterol Levels

    The health community used to recommend avoiding eggs due to their high dietary cholesterol levels. With over 200 mgs of cholesterol, it only makes sense that someone who wants to lower their cholesterol should avoid eggs - right?

    Not so. Today, we know that only a tiny fraction of dietary cholesterol actually ends up in the blood stream. Eggs are actually quite a healthy source of proteins and contain twelve different kinds of vitamins and minerals. The serving size of eggs is either 2 full eggs or 3 egg whites and 1 full egg in order to get a complete protein.

    It's still not good to overdo it, but eating eggs a couple of times per week won't hurt.

    2. There Is an "Ideal" Cholesterol Number

    People often look for a target cholesterol number, as if there were a global ideal that's right for everyone.

    In reality, however, everyone's body is a bit different. A smoker's target LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels are different than a non-smoker's. A diabetic's target levels are different than a non-diabetic's. So on and so forth.

    Before you look online for "ideal" target levels, consult your doctor to get a target number tailored specifically for you.

    3. Cholesterol Is Evil

    Cholesterol is actually a necessary part of your body's everyday processes. Cholesterol helps line various kinds of cells in your body, including your all-important brain cells. They also help give cells more structural integrity and help produce necessary hormones for healthy living.

    To make a long story short, our bodies wouldn't be able to function without cholesterol.

    It's only when LDL cholesterol levels get too high that we're in trouble because of it.

    4. Only the Elderly Get High Cholesterol

    Another common myth is that high cholesterol is an issue mostly for the elderly.

    In practice, I have seen kids as young as eight years old with high cholesterol. This tends to happen in overweight, obese or sedentary kids.

    Though it's true that the rate of high cholesterol does go up with age, just because you're younger doesn't mean you're safe. Make sure to get your cholesterol count from your doctor in your annual check-up, even if you're under 30 years old.

    These are a few of the most common myths that surround high cholesterol. Remember that medical information changes often as new research and data are discovered. The best source of information regarding high cholesterol should always come from a trusted doctor, rather than through friends, family or even the internet.

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  • High Cholesterol Diet Tips


    Your dietary habits, including what you eat and how much you eat it, can have a lot to do with your cholesterol levels. Your cholesterol levels are determined in large part by your dietary habits over the course of years.

    While changing your diet won't have an immediate impact on your cholesterol, it's crucial that you start changing your diet if you want to improve your health in the long run.

    Here are a few tips if you have high cholesterol.

    1. Start by Cutting Back on Binge Eating

    Are you eating more than your daily recommended caloric intake? If so, then your first step should be to start eating smaller portion sizes.

    Start by eating with smaller size plates. Studies have shown that if food is presented on a smaller plate, smaller quantities of food can still "feel" like it's a full meal.

    Lower the amount of food you eat per meal. Aim to eat until you feel satiated but not stuffed.

    1. Eliminate Junk Foods & Fat Foods

    Take out all the junk foods, processed foods and high fat foods in your diet.  Your diet should consist of mostly whole foods – foods in their natural state.

    This includes deep fried foods, preserved foods, microwaved meals, untrimmed red meats and any other foods that have high fat content.

    Look at the amount of fat per serving in the ingredients list of the food you're going to buy. Make sure you also check how many servings are in each package.

    Eliminating junk foods from your diet can sometimes be all it takes to drastically cut down your cholesterol intake.

    1. Get Help from a Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor

    Trying to change your diet on your own is extremely difficult. The human body's relationship to foods is actually quite similar to drugs.

    If you're used to eating certain foods and suddenly try to quit, the body can go into emotional withdrawal. This is one of the big reasons why people have so much trouble sticking to diets.

    Instead of trying to do it on your own, having support of others can go a long way. If possible, have a nutritionist, doctor, friend, family member or even psychologist walk you step by step through the process if possible.

    1. Add In Fibers Slowly

    Don't try to do it all at once; but adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can really go a long way.

    Start by adding a small salad to each meal. Instead of having to make it each meal, it helps to just prepare a large batch of salad and add (low fat) dressing with each meal.

    In between meals, try snacking on a pear or orange instead of a snack bar.  You can also try adding ground flax seeds to a salad or a smoothie.

    Changing your diet isn't easy because you may be literally trying to reverse decade-old habits. However, reversing these habits is often what's necessary to see the changes you want to see.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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  • High Cholesterol Treatment Options


    High cholesterol is one of the most common ailments plaguing Western society today. Millions are spent every year on treatment. If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, there are quite a few different treatments you can choose from.

    On a most basic level, treating cholesterol begins with your lifestyle. It involves reducing the fat in your diet, eating more fibers and exercising more. This will help eliminate the things that caused high cholesterol in the first place from your life; then start to reverse the process.

    That said, treating high cholesterol also often involves using one or more supplements.  Supplements can speed up the way you lower cholesterol instead of relying on diet and lifestyle alone.  

    Here are a few of the most common treatment options.

    1.  Niacin

    If for some reason you're unable to get a prescription for other high blood pressure drugs, niacin is a popular alternative.

    Niacin interacts directly with your liver, causing it to produce less cholesterol than it normally would.

    The niacin in a pharmacy might also be labeled Vitamin B3. It may cause a temporary flushing which may be uncomfortable but it is harmless.  Taking niacin with food will reduce the chances of flushing.  It should be taken at a minimum dose of 1 g per day.  Niacin lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) by up to 30 percent, but unlike statin drugs, it also substantially boosts HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces triglycerides. 

    1. Sterols

    Sterols interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.  Two daily grams lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) by 9 to 20 percent.  There are supplements which vary in composition and dosage of sterols. The food and Drug Administration FDA allows food and supplement lables to clam they reduce the heart disease risks if they supply at least 400 mg of sterols per serving. 

    1. Red Yeast Rice Extract

    Used in Asia as a heart remedy, the extract is made by fermenting red yeast on rice.  Its main compound is monacolin K which lowers cholesterol production in the liver.  It is marketed in purified form as the drug lovastatin.  The effect of the supplement is unpredictable.  The amount of the compound can vary greatly.  Making sure you get a good brand would be very important in the effectiveness. If you take it have your blood tested regularly to make sure it is working and not having adverse effects.

    1. Soluble Fiber Supplements

    Guidelines recommend to eat grains rich in soluble fiber.  One is psyllium, sold as a laxative and fiber supplement, which can lower LDL cholesterol 5 to 15 percent and has other heart-healthy effects too.  The key is to have the fiber before each meal.  This will make the fiber bind to the cholesterol in your food and decrease the absorption.  This habit can also help to lower blood sugar levels through the same mechanisms.

    Another beta glucan, in oats and barley, which lowers LDL cholesterol.  Fiber rich oat and barley products can bear a heart-health claim, but you need 3 to 6 daily grams for significant effect.  Many supplement provide beta glucan or other soluble fibers. 

    Remember if you increase fiber you must increase water too.

    1. Choosing Your Treatments

    The first step to determining which treatment(s) you should use is to figure out what level of risk you're considered. If you're a Category I high risk case, you'll need very different kinds of treatments than if you were Category IV, low risk.

    Talk to your naturopathic doctor about your various treatment options. Research options recommended by your doctor and make an informed decision as to which treatments you ultimately want to use.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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  • How to Diagnose High Cholesterol


    If you think you might have high cholesterol and want to go in for a diagnosis, what can you expect? High cholesterol diagnosis is primarily done through blood tests. Just a physical exam can't tell the doctor much about your cholesterol levels.

    What Is a Lipid Profile?

    A lipid profile is a blood test specifically catered for testing for high cholesterol levels.

    In order to make sure you get an accurate reading, your doctor will require that you skip meals for 12 hours before you take the test.

    This is because certain levels in your blood can fluctuate whenever you eat food. In order to get a good baseline reading, they need you to not eat for a period of time.

    They then take your blood using a needle. Much like taking blood for any other kind of test, your blood vessels will be constricted using a band to make them stand out. Blood will then be extracted and sent to the lab for testing and diagnosis.

    The Different Parts of Your Lipid Profiles

    There are a few numbers your doctor is going to come back with.

    The first is your LDL cholesterol levels. LDL stands for "low density lipoproteins." Your LDL levels are the most important numbers you want to pay attention to if you're worried about high cholesterol.

    Another important number to pay attention to is your HDL or "high density lipoprotein" levels. HDL is generally considered the "good" cholesterol that you want in your blood stream to help your cells function better.

    The two other numbers your doctor will come back with are your triglyceride levels and your total cholesterol levels. Your triglycerides are also considered bad lipids. Your total cholesterol is the total of your HDL and LDL levels.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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  • Key Foods to Avoid If Your Cholesterol Is High


    If you want to lower your cholesterol, the very first step should be to start avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol. If you're constantly adding more cholesterol to your body, it'll be very hard to reduce your cholesterol levels no matter what else you're doing.

    Here are a few of the most important foods to start avoiding.

    Livers, Hearts, Intestines

    Avoid eating any kind of animal organs. This includes chicken livers, hearts or bone marrow.

    Though these foods aren't frequently used in Western cooking, they're extremely common in Asian cooking as well as some South American dishes.

    Butter, Margarine, Lard

    Toast with butter is a staple of most people's breakfast. Many people also often prefer to cook with butter rather than oil, because it smells and tastes richer.

    Unfortunately, butter and margarine both have extremely high cholesterol contents. If you're trying to lower your cholesterol, it's best to say "no" to butter and butter-replicas.

    Processed Meats: Spam, Bologna, Sausages

    Processed meats are one of the worst cholesterol offenders in the standard American diet.

    Processed meats usually contain ground-up meat from all the parts of the animal that couldn't be used in other products. In other words, the fattest, dirtiest and least healthy aspects of the animal are what's packed into sausages, spam, etc.

    On top of that, processed meats are chock full of sodium and oils. In other words, processed meats are your worst enemy if you're trying to lower your cholesterol.

    Deep Fried Foods

    Deep fried foods like French fries, Kentucky Fried Chicken and mozzarella sticks are also terrible for cholesterol.

    Deep fried foods work by essentially being dunked in oil (fat) and letting them sit there until they cook. Naturally, the foods cooked this way are going to absorb a lot of fat and cholesterol.

    In addition to oil absorption, the oil that deep fried foods are cooked in have often been sitting there for hours, causing the fats to turn into trans-fats.

    TV Dinners, Microwavable Meals

    Finally, avoid microwavable meals of all sorts.

    Microwavable meals and frozen meals are packed full of preservatives and other unhealthy chemicals. They're also extremely high in calories and tend to have a lot of hidden sugar.

    Instead of eating microwavable dinners, it's much healthier to either cook in yourself or find a sandwich shop or other healthy quick food joint in your neighborhood.


    Finally, many desserts are also packed full of sugars, fats, diary and all kinds of other high cholesterol ingredients.

    If you have high cholesterol, does that mean you can never enjoy ice cream or chocolate again? Not necessarily. Low-fat, low-calorie alternative ice creams and chocolates are still a valid option.

    These are some of the most important foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol. Again, the first step to getting your cholesterol down to healthy levels is to stop taking in more unhealthy cholesterols.

    Coffee and alcohol

    If you feel like you barely eat any of the foods mentioned above then think about how much coffee or alcohol you may be drinking.  I know these can be harder habits to get rid of but they will definitely affect your cholesterol levels.  Think about switching the coffee to a green tea or an herbal tea.  You can also switch to a Swiss Water decaf which is a product that removes most of the caffeine through a steaming process. 

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