The link between LDL cholesterol and heart disease is one of the most significant and well documented of all risk indicators. As such, it’s important that you are aware of your numbers and get tested regularly to make sure things are headed in the right direction.
A lot can happen in the course of a year, so an annual blood test is something you need to have, especially if you have had problems in the past.
High cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries, which could eventually result in a heart attack or stroke if left unchecked.
It’s not the only risk factor, as there are others that you will read about on this site, but it’s one of the important components. Doing your part to keep your cholesterol in check can definitely reduce your risk of an adverse event.
High LDL Cholesterol…What You Need to Know
FACT: Most people are unaware that only 20% of your cholesterol actually comes from your diet…the other 80% is manufactured by your liver.
What is cholesterol and is it all bad?
Despite all of the negative press that it gets, cholesterol is a necessary component for your body’s health. Without it, your body would not function properly. It is essentially a non soluble waxy substance which your body uses to make hormones, cell walls and nerve sheaths. There is the good kind and the bad kind, as outlined below.
What’s the difference between LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol?
LDL(low density lipoprotein) is the bad or oxidized form of cholesterol. LDL attaches itself to artery walls, creating plaque that can build up and eventually block your arteries, which could result in a heart attack or even a stroke. As such, you want your LDL levels to be as low as possible.
HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein), on the other hand, is the good form. HDL travels around in your bloodstream, picking up excess LDL cholesterol and bringing it back to your liver to be reprocessed. Therefore, HDL is essentially cleaning out your body. As such, you want your HDL levels to be as high as possible.
What is the ideal HDL LDL ratio in the bloodstream?
Your total cholesterol is an important figure, but even more important is the ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol. Following are the normal and optimal levels:
Total Cholesterol – Normal Levels: up to 199 mg/dL
Optimal Levels: Between 180-220 mg/dL
LDL Cholesterol – Normal Levels: up to 129 mg/dL
Optimal Levels: Under 100 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol – Normal Levels: no lower than 35mg/dL
Optimal Levels: Over 50 mg/dL
Summary: For optimal health, you should keep your LDL down and keep your HDL up!
How to Lower LDL Cholesterol and Raise HDL
Regardless of whether or not you have high LDL cholesterol currently, it is very important to maintain your levels and do what you can to ensure that you’re not headed in the wrong direction.
Many doctors prescribe medications like Lipitor called statins, but these can cause some very serious side effects and should only be used in extreme cases. Also, although they can lower LDL, they do nothing to increase HDL, and actually deplete the body’s levels of a very important heart nutrient called CoEnzyme Q10.
As such, natural alternatives may be a better option for you, and are certainly worth exploring.
As far as diets to lower cholesterol, you should follow the healthy heart diet tips outlined here. Keep in mind only 20% comes from your diet, so low cholesterol food is only part of the equation. You have to manage the other 80% that’s manufactured by your liver.
Following are some of the proven natural ingredients that can manage your LDL cholesterol levels…
Supplements That Can Help
In numerous double blind placebo trials involving LDL cholesterol and heart disease the first two nutrients have been shown to rival statin drugs in improving blood serum levels:
Policosanol – a natural extract from sugar cane which has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as well as raise HDL (good) cholesterol. More importantly policosanol has been proven to be free of side effects, unlike the statins.
Guggulipid Extract – an ancient herb from India recently shown to lower cholesterol levels and can also reduce triglyceride levels, another risk factor for heart disease.
Fish Oil – with its powerful Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil can raise HDL levels and lower LDL, while boosting cardiovascular health at the same time.
Tumeric Extract – much evidence points to the fact that tumeric may decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, in addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Green Tea Extract – green tea is widely used for many medicinal purposes, and has been shown to reduce triglycerides as well as LDL, and increase HDL. Green tea also has antioxidants that can prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.
Food That Can Help
Many of the heart healthy foods that you hear about all the time can help with your LDL cholesterol levels as well. That’s why it’s always a good idea to start with your diet when it comes to preventing and treating almost all health conditions.
Soluble fiber is something that can limit the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream, so consider adding high-fiber foods like oatmeal, prunes, beans, broccoli, avocados, fruits and berries, and sprinkle in some flaxseeds or chia for a fiber boost.
Nuts can also help lower LDL cholesterol by preventing their absorption into the intestines. Walnuts and almonds are the most healthful, but peanuts, cashews, pistachios and other nuts have many heart-healthy properties as well.
Fatty fish such as salmon, halibut and cod contain all-important omega 3 fatty acids, which can help to boost HDL levels, in turn lowering LDL and offering a number of heart-specific benefits.
Dark chocolate is another way to reduce LDL bad cholesterol, but just make sure it has a high cocoa content…that white Hershey Bar with nougat is not what we’re talking about here. 🙂
Just making healthier choices in general will go a long way towards not only lowering LDL and raising HDL but also improving your heart health in general, as well as your overall wellness. Limit your fast foods, your friend foods, your trans fats…cake, cookies, donuts, chips. That alone will make a difference. Then work on adding some or all of the foods above.
Is There an Effective Cholesterol Lowering Supplement?
Some members of our staff have been taking a special natural cholesterol lowering formula with vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts to help lower LDL cholesterol levels as well as decrease triglycerides (fats) and promote overall heart health.
The ingredients of this special formula have been shown to be much safer than the statin medications prescribed by many doctors. Some of the ingredients have actually outperformed statin medications in clinical trials.
Take a look at this natural cholesterol lowering formula and find out how it can help significantly lower your LDL levels as well as promote overall heart health.