Pomerene Hospital Blog

Spotlight on Cholesterol: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Pomerene Marketing - Tuesday, September 08, 2015

When we think of people with high cholesterol, we may associate it with a poor diet and/or a negligent lifestyle. However cholesterol, when controlled, is a crucial component of good health.

The negative connotation of cholesterol surfaces when too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing, resulting in elevated lipid levels. Cholesterol levels are precariously high in more than 100,000 million Americans and are a risk factor for heart disease, Diabetes, and stroke. Goal numbers for a healthy lipid profile:

Total cholesterol:< or = to 200mg/dl

LDL cholesterol: < or = 100mg/dl (< 70mg/dl w/ cardiac hx)

HDL cholesterol: > or = 60mg/dl

Triglycerides: < or = 150

In actuality, about 75% of our cholesterol is manufactured by our livers. In other words, much of our cholesterol elevation is due to uncontrollable factors. The other 25% comes from the food we eat. Therefore cholesterol elevation can be multifactorial; sometimes controllable factors, sometimes not.

Causative factors include:

-genetic predisposition to producing too much cholesterol.

-getting older; especially females who no longer produce much estrogen.

-tobacco use

-carrying extra body weight

-consuming a diet high in saturated fats and trans fats.

Positive changes which can aid in decreasing cholesterol levels are:

-keeping total fat < 35% of calories daily

-minimizing intake of saturated fat (red meats and full fat dairy products).

-eliminating trans fats (Crisco/ storebought pastries) which both increase bad, and decrease good cholesterol

-increasing dietary fiber (especially soluable fiber) daily to 20-30gms/day

-increase intake of mono fat (like olive oil and avocados)

-growing evidence suggests that low carb diets improve cholesterol levels

-Managing stress

-increasing weekly exercise to 150 min per week or more

-taking supplements such as flaxseed, fish oil or plant sterols, niacin, garlic, fenugreek seeds, artichoke leaf extract, yarrow, or holy basil

-taking a statin prescription when diet interventions are not enough

It takes years for arteries to be clogged by cholesterol containing plaques, but there is much evidence that atheroschlerosis can be reversed, at least to some degree. A combination of the above interventions can promote large drops in cholesterol, which have been shown to promote regression of plaque formation.

For the best of health, know your numbers and keep them controlled!

Blog Written by Carol Denbow, MS, RD, LD 



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