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High cholesterol problem
Old 02-05-2012, 04:16 AM   #1
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High cholesterol problem

Apologies if there was a previous thread on this - made a search but could not find one.

My annual check-up results was good on everything except my cholesterol level which currently stands at 7.8 (last year was 7.5). My good and bad cholesterol levels are also high. Again, the doctor did not recommend that I take any medication but I should seriously follow a low cholesterol diet. I have been really bad as I eat a lot of red meat and chicken skin and all kinds of seafood. So, I started on a low cholesterol diet this week. It's oatmeal for breakfast, lots of fish and white meat and plenty of vegetables and fruits. It gets kind of boring and wonder whether anyone can recommend other varieties that have satisfied them so that I can stick to the diet for at least for 6 months.

Another question is whether you know of any other food/spices I can take to lower cholesterol. One of my friends told me to try fenugreek and I'm going to look for it and try that. I also make barley drinks as I heard it helps like oatmeal.

On lifestyle, I exercise regularly and have increased my exercise level recently. This increase exercise activity and low cholesterol diet for the week made me lose 2 lbs. I don't want to lose too much weight - 3 to 5 lbs is ok but not too much.

Any advice for food variety and things i can try to lower cholesterol would be much appreciated. Thanks
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:42 AM   #2
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Most of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is made by your liver, which processes your carbohydrate/sugar intake. If you look up threads and posts by TromboneAl and haha, if I recall correctly, you will find discussions about this. You can also look up information on low carb or reduced carb diets, not necessarily for losing weight, but for maintaining heart health.

Thus, my suggestion would be to take a look at the carbohydrates in your diet, and in particular, your consumption of sugars and white anything (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes)...anything that has a high glycemic index and a high glycemic load would be suspect (as are all the whites listed above). Remove or restrict those items and chances are pretty high that your cholesterol will decline. I don't suggest eliminating all carbs, but some people seem to be better off without too much in the carb department. When you reduce carbs, you will need to add some lean proteins and perhaps some good fats such as olive oil, peanut butter, and avocados. You will also want to add some exercise if you haven't already.

Hope this gives some, uh, food for thought.

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Old 02-05-2012, 05:59 AM   #3
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Cholesterol in your diet has very little to do with cholesterol in your blood.

At 7.8, your total cholesterol is about 302 in the US system, so that's not outrageously high.

Much more to the point, look at your HDL and triglyceride levels. You want them high and low, respectively.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:41 AM   #4
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For some people, taking timed-release niacin helps raise their HDL levels which improves the overall ratio.

Niacin to boost your HDL, 'good,' cholesterol - MayoClinic.com


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Old 02-05-2012, 10:24 AM   #5
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I wont get into all the HDL and LDL, etc, as there are some very informative posts here on it. However if your intent is to stick with eating oatmeal, want it in a more tasteful manner, I can suggest eating it with a bananna chopped up in it, and a handful of chopped walnuts tossed in it. This has proven very tasty to me as I couldnt eat oatmeal daily either because of bland taste. Now I eat it the above way, and I eat it everyday and enjoy it. Very healthy and sweet tasting without sugar added, the added healthy calories of the walnuts and bananna should be a non issue for you since caloric loss does not appear to be your major goal.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:35 AM   #6
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Have you tried Lipitor or some other cholesterol reducing drug? It brough mine down from 295 to under 200. 302 is far too high, 200 is normal.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:39 AM   #7
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I may also add if you are a person who likes to use margarine spread, there is one called Benecol, that claims to reduce dietary cholesterol by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. You can google it to read more about it. I just saw it in sunday paper with $2 off coupon. I personally havent tried it, because I rarely use any type of spread on my food.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:47 AM   #8
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Try and stay away from Rx meds. They all have some side effects. Try fresh wheatgrass. Very good if you can get a wheatgrass grinder.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:32 AM   #9
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My MIL had cholesterol that ran around 300 and her primary care doctor put her on a statin when she was 91 or so. What in the heck was he thinking? She had never displayed any signs of heart disease nor did she have any other risk factor than age.

It took me a year to convince her to stop taking it. The fact her memory was starting to noticeably fail her and she was getting confused where she had never had that problem helped convince her the "cure" was much worse than the "problem." Things improved after she stopped taking the statin and I advised her to stop getting her cholesterol tested since why ask the question.

She died a month short of her 95th birthday after a short illness unrelated to her heart.

Is your weight normal? My cholesterol dropped 40 points when I lost 20 pounds on the Dukan Diet. The weight loss was good but my carbohydrate consumption also went way, way down.

As I have been on the Dukan Diet (protein-centric, low carb), I have pushed most carb snacks out of the house. DH is now snacking more on pistachios versus chips of any kind and his cholesterol has dropped 20 points. I'm really seeing the carb/cholesterol connection in my house and I think DH is finally getting the picture also.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:23 PM   #10
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I really don't understand why many doctors are so behind the times on cholesterol. Avoiding fat and cholesterol is not helpful.

Years ago, before low carb was on my radar, I thought it would be fun to see how much I could influence my cholesterol. So, for three weeks before my test, I went vegetarian. My numbers were worse than before. I thought that meant I was in real trouble. But now I know that the problem was that I was simply misguided.

In summary, oatmeal is not your friend. Do a lot of research, and keep your mind open to the possibility that the conventional advice is wrong.
Point #1: Eating saturated fat doesn’t raise cholesterol levels in the blood

There’s no convincing evidence that eating saturated fat raises blood cholesterol. Stephan Guyenet spanked that old yarn to the curb in this recent blog post. In short, of all of the studies examining the relationship between saturated fat intake and serum cholesterol, only one found a clear relationship between the two and even that association was weak. The rest found no association at all.
Point #2: Eating cholesterol doesn’t (usually) raise cholesterol levels in the blood

Nor is there evidence that eating cholesterol in the diet raises cholesterol levels in your blood. A recent review of the scientific literature published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care clearly indicates that egg consumption has no discernible impact on blood cholesterol levels in 70% of the population. In the other 30% of the population (termed “hyperresponders”), eggs do increase both circulating LDL and HDL cholesterol.


An increase of HDL is a good thing. And as it turns out, so is a boost of the type of LDL that eating saturated fat and cholesterol increases. We now know there are two different types of LDL: small, dense LDL, and large, buoyant LDL. Small, dense LDL is a significant risk factor for heart disease because it’s more likely to oxidize and cause inflammation. Large, buoyant LDL is not a risk factor for heart disease. And guess what? Eating eggs not only increases the benign large, buoyant LDL, but it also decreases the harmful small, dense LDL by 20%. I’ve written more about this here and here, and you can also watch some videos on this topic here.



Above is from 5 reasons not to worry about your cholesterol numbers.


See also:


Whole Health Source: Does Dietary Saturated Fat Increase Blood Cholesterol? An Informal Review of Observational Studies


The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. » Low-carbohydrate diets increase LDL: debunking the myth
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Moscyn View Post
It gets kind of boring and wonder whether anyone can recommend other varieties that have satisfied them so that I can stick to the diet for at least for 6 months.
I'm thinking that it would be better if you can find a way of eating that you'll stick with for the long term. I said "way of eating" rather than diet, as sometimes the word diet suggests a regimen that is hard work to stick to.

If what you're eating seems boring, perhaps more variety would help? You don't have to eat oatmeal every morning. Perhaps some mornings have yoghurt and mix your own fruit in, or a bit of granola as well. Half a slice of a nice juicy grapefruit is good for waking the mouth up too. If you get hungry between meals, try snacking on nuts (but not the kind with lots of salt added). As I understand it, nut fat = good fat.

Portion size is important as well. Oatmeal is good (especially if it's not instant, as the instant is more processed) but eating lots of oatmeal to fill yourself up is not that great.

The rough guidelines my doctor gave me for a meal were that half my plate should be veggies, quarter a high-quality protein source (fish and chicken are good, beef is OK, especially if grass-fed), and the other quarter should be complex carbs (try to avoid the refined carbs as much as possible.)

If you have a rough mental guideline for your diet, then you can swap and substitute the actual foods you use so that you don't get bored.

Just a few thoughts.

EDIT - just saw what Al wrote about oatmeal, and may need to do a rethink on my oatmeal position. Al is years ahead of me in his personal research; I've only just started. I do like my current doctor though, as he happily confessed to me that the research on cholestorol is very incomplete and far from conclusive. My previous doctor was adamant that the research was definitive and seemed very keen to get me on statins.
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:00 PM   #12
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TromboneAl said- In summary, oatmeal is not your friend. Do a lot of research, and keep your mind open to the possibility that the conventional advice is wrong.

Im curious as to why you say oatmeal is not your friend. Keep in kind I dont eat it as a pancea for cholesterol problems, as mine are fine, but cholesterol issues aside, oatmeal certainly appears to have other redeeming qualities including digestive tract which I have noticed being healthier for me. I know you read a lot about food intake and am interested in what you have read, as all I have ever read is positive for its nutritious benefits.
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:13 PM   #13
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I really like his Point #5: "Eat good food and don't worry about the numbers".
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:29 PM   #14
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I really like his Point #5: "Eat good food and don't worry about the numbers".
Sure, it is nice. But whether it is accurate or not is a completely different question. There is no shortage of diet or health gurus, most with big mouths, lots of confidence, and a marked tendency to be advocates for one position or another. It's like they all have read the principles of marketing- get a clear position, and try to occupy that niche completely. Don't confuse your customers. Makes for good marketing, but bad explication of very complex systems. But that is OK, as complexity is the enemy of marketing.

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Old 02-05-2012, 01:49 PM   #15
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My problem with oatmeal is that it is timed-release sugar. That is, it does the same thing to your blood sugar that a Twinkie does, but in a much slower and less extreme way. Now, I realize that this is an extreme view, and that maybe long slow increases in blood sugar are not harmful. But since I don't see a lot of upside to oatmeal other than the taste and the fiber, I decided it's better to be safe than sorry. Also, oatmeal is generally eaten with milk, which contains a lot of sugar.

As for fiber, I need it but I get it from psyllium husks and flax seed.
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:52 PM   #16
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Sure, it is nice. But whether it is accurate or not is a completely different question. There is no shortage of diet or health gurus, most with big mouths, lots of confidence, and a marked tendency to be advocates for one position or another. It's like they all have read the principles of marketing- get a clear position, and try to occupy that niche completely. Don't confuse your customers. Makes for good marketing, but bad explication of very complex systems. But that is OK, as complexity is the enemy of marketing.
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It would be hard to prove or disprove the accuracy of such a statement, as it is rather general in nature - for instance, what is "good food"?

I'd agree with your point haha, if you were making it with regard to statements that strongly supported a particular eating regimen, but not with a general statement, such as "Eat good food and don't worry about the numbers". However, if you were to argue that the phrase "good food" is very non-specific and as such, renders the point fairly meaningless, then I'd find it hard to disagree.

I still like one of my great-uncle Jim's favorite ideals for living - "Everything in moderation". Until our understanding of diets is more advanced, or for folk who don't care to delve too deeply into the current science, it's not bad advice for diet either.
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:50 PM   #17
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Looking around, just now, I found this in the Lipitor package insert:
There were no significant differences between the treatment groups for all-cause mortality: 216 (9.1%) in the LIPITOR 80 mg/day group vs. 211 (8.9%) in the placebo group. The proportions of subjects who experienced cardiovascular death were numerically smaller in the LIPITOR 80 mg group (3.3%) than in the placebo group (4.1%). The proportions of subjects who experienced non-cardiovascular death were numerically larger in the LIPITOR 80 mg group (5.0%) than in the placebo group (4.0%).

Lipitor (2): FDA Package Insert, via DrugInserts.com
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:36 PM   #18
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I really like his Point #5: "Eat good food and don't worry about the numbers".
+1
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:50 PM   #19
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Sure, it is nice. But whether it is accurate or not is a completely different question. There is no shortage of diet or health gurus, most with big mouths, lots of confidence, and a marked tendency to be advocates for one position or another. It's like they all have read the principles of marketing- get a clear position, and try to occupy that niche completely. Don't confuse your customers. Makes for good marketing, but bad explication of very complex systems. But that is OK, as complexity is the enemy of marketing.

Ha
Yes but since no one really knows what a good diet is I say use common sense and eat in a way that makes you feel best. For me, good food means fresh food not processed food. Fresh veggies, fruit, eggs, whole grains with a small amount of fresh wild caught seafood. I like eating this way, my weight is good (115 @ 5'3") and I have enough energy for exercise. My LDL (last checkup) was 199 and I don't care (they are the large LDL thingies).
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:24 PM   #20
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Try and stay away from Rx meds. They all have some side effects. Try fresh wheatgrass. Very good if you can get a wheatgrass grinder.
I appreciate this perspective, but I do think it can be a very limiting point of view. Yes, medication can have side-effects, and statins are no exception. However, it is not uncommon for dietary changes and life style (exercise) changes to be insufficient for reducing lipids to a "safe" level. This can be either because the individual's physiology does not respond to the dietary/lifestyle changes, or the individual is unable/unwilling to make the changes on a permenant basis. So, your are correct---not taking statins is one way to assure that you will avoid possible side effects, but you will subject yourself to the near certainty of having coronary heart disease. Regular bloodwork and a visit to the MD is in nearly all cases sufficient to see if you have any side effects that should limit you from taking statins. My own experience is that most folks do fine.
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