Image Licensed by Ingram Images.
How to Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides Naturally
By Nancy Russell, M.D.
Are you looking for a way to lower cholesterol without prescription drugs? YES! And can you lower your cholesterol too much? YES! There are definite alternatives to lower cholesterol and it can start with nutritional changes, exercise, and natural supplements.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the fats in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to make healthy cells and hormones such as estrogen for women and testosterone for men. Not all cholesterol is bad; so look beyond the total cholesterol number, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, to the breakdown of these numbers or cholesterol particles. HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol responsible for pulling plaque out of our arteries while the LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol and causes plaque to build in our arteries. The next area of concern is to determine if inflammation is present in your system or the arteries directly. Two blood tests for inflammation are HS-CRP for general inflammation and MPO or myeloperoxidase for more specific blood vessel inflammation. Genetic markers, such as Apo-A, MTHFR, and Lp(a) are a few of the markers that can be helpful in making treatment decisions.
Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulate in the bloodstream and are usually increased in the bloodstream with obesity, lack of exercise, and consumption of alcohol, sugar, and other simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, rice noodles, potatoes, and sweetened drinks). As triglycerides increase, the HDL (good cholesterol) decrease. By lowering your triglycerides with exercise and by decreasing simple carbohydrates you can increase the HDL, or good cholesterol, to fight the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque buildup can lead to strokes, heart attack, and poor leg circulation.
The best foods to eat to lower triglycerides are beans, green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines, and fruits that are low in sugar such as Granny Smith apples, berries, and grapefruit. Exercise and weight loss can lower triglycerides. Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids in fish not only lower triglycerides but also can improve HDL cholesterol.
LDL, or bad cholesterol, is raised by eating fatty meats, especially beef and pork. There is less of an effect with red meat if the animals are grass fed instead or grain fed, so choose grass fed red meat without antibiotics and hormones. Omega-3 eggs, cage free, is another good choice. Fiber in the form of steel-cut oats and psyllium seeds, and increasing to over 30 grams of total fiber per day, is known to lower cholesterol.
Supplements to help lower LDL cholesterol include the following: Bergamot BPF—two capsules per day lower cholesterol in the liver and decrease inflammation. Artichoke extract—500mg three times a day. ECGC—the active ingredient in green tea, 500mg twice a day. Plant sterols—500 to 750mg two times per day blocks the absorption and lowers LDL cholesterol. Time Release niacin is very strong in lowering LDL cholesterol as well as increasing HDL cholesterol and decreasing triglycerides. If taking Niacin, the non-flush type is not as effective. Liver function should be monitored regularly if Niacin is taken. Red yeast rice is also very strong in lowering cholesterol, and liver function should be monitored as this is the botanical involved in statin therapy so it can also lower Coenzyme Q-10 levels. Niacin and red yeast rice are best used with the guidance of a healthcare provider while monitoring levels of cholesterol and liver enzymes.
The best advice is to lower cholesterol with diet, exercise, and the milder supplements other than niacin and red yeast rice. There is more evidence to suggest if the total cholesterol is lowered below 200mg/dl, your brain health and hormone production can be affected. The stronger supplements can be utilized for people who have had plaque buildup and suffered plaque-related medical problems or have a strong family history of sudden death from heart attacks or heart attacks in family members under age 50.
Lowering cholesterol is a complicated and controversial subject and each one of us needs to be educated based on personal lab values and preferences. Educate yourself and obtain the advice of a functional medicine or integrative practitioner for further knowledge. Your health is in your hands.
Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.
Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is www.nancyrussellmd.com where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.