First Line Of Defense Against High Cholesterol Numbers Is Diet, Not Drugs

What you eat influences cholesterol numbers and other lipids in your blood. It is no doubt that diets high in animal products tend to elevate cholesterol levels.

There is a lot of talk about cholesterol but few people actually understand what it actually is. It is white fat-like substance with the consistency of soft candle-like wax that can be found anywhere in the body such as in membranes of cells, in the bile, in hormones and in the bloodstream.

Although often referred to as dangerous and potential threat to life, cholesterol is essential to maintain life. The body needs it to build cell walls, make hormones, and perform other important jobs. Yes, it is essential to maintain life but too much of it can be dangerous.

The liver produces about 1 gram of it each day, which is all the body requires. Every addition to this comes from the food we consume on a daily basis – specifically animal products. The body does not need this, but unless you are a strict vegetarian who excludes all animal products, you are bound to consume varying amounts of it.

As you aware that liquid and water does not mix well, so it is with cholesterol and blood. Because it is a type of lipid or fat and it cannot travel through the bloodstream by itself, so it has to combine with certain proteins. These proteins pick it up and transport it to different parts of the body. This mix is known as lipoprotein.

There are two most important types of lipoproteins known as high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL and LDL have good and bad effects on the body.
If you have too much LDL, over time this wax like substance can build up on the walls of your artery, causing blockages and leading to heart attack or stroke.

This is why LDL is referred to as "bad cholesterol". HDL carries cholesterol away from your arteries to your liver, where it is eliminated. Hence it is termed as "good cholesterol".

How To Determine High Cholesterol Numbers

A simple blood work will determine your overall level, as well as the individual levels of LDL and HDL. The process is that you will be asked to fast by your doctor before your blood is drawn. Your blood specimen will be analyzed for LDL, HDL and the amount of blood fat, also known as triglycerides in the bloodstream.

The general results of the analysis is that a healthy blood test should show a high number of HDL, and that too much LDL is unhealthy because it can build up in the inner wall of the arteries and form a plaque which clogs the arteries thereby increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Generally, it is best to have an overall total of HDL and LDL at 200 mg/dl or below. LDL level should be less than 70 mg/dl. This should be the optimal goal for those at highest risk of heart disease. Levels of 190 mg/dl are considered very high, with levels of 130 – 189 as being borderline and high. HDL should be above 60 mg/dl.

Diet And Cholesterol - What Is The Link?

It is obvious by now that most people know high cholesterol numbers or levels can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but there is still a lot of confusion about how or which diets affect LDL levels. Recent surveys show that a lot of people have thrown up their hands in confusion.

Most people don’t realize that this fatty lipid comes from the two sources of food and their own cells. In fact the body makes three times more in a day than we typically eat so we don’t need to add anymore from our diet.

Yet a lot of people continue to eat an average of 300 – 400 milligrams of this substance every day from animal sources. These large amounts from dietary sources exceed the dietary recommendation of no more than 200 milligrams a day.

Saturated Fats Harm Your Arteries

So how do I know if I am eating too many cholesterol laden foods? You ask. Simple! Animal base foods produce the largest amounts.

For instance, two egg yolks provide 424 milligrams, and consuming 7 ounces of liver can put you over the top by producing a whopping 762 milligrams.

Click on these underlined links for high cholesterol foods. Search for foods that will lower your cholesterol levels here.

Now where does all the consumed cholesterol floating around in the intestines go? About half of the approximately 2,000 milligrams is excreted and half is re-absorbed into the intestinal cells, and goes back to the liver. To lower your LDL cholesterol numbers, your body will have to be able to block the re-absorption process and excrete the excess instead of returning it to the liver.

However, many factors influence how the human body processes dietary cholesterol. These factors include exercise, genetics, gender, and other components of diet. Some people have a genetic predisposition to make loads of it internally.

Others also inherit the tendency to produce fewer of the receptors that remove LDL cholesterol from circulation. This explain why some people can consume large amounts but have normal blood levels, while others eat very little but have high blood cholesterol levels.

Lower LDL Or Increase Risk For Heart Attack

How Then Can You Lower Your LDL cholesterol numbers? Statin drugs have been known to lower cholesterol and they are the number one prescribed drugs to combat this disease.

In 2003, a group of British scientists performed three meta-analyses to answer the question “What is the effect of statins on high LDL cholesterol numbers, heart disease and stroke?” The result showed that statin drugs are highly effective medications that significantly lower LDL cholesterol numbers by an average of 70 mg/dl.

Statin drugs like Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, Crestor and Prevachol are all powerful prescription medicines that lower circulating LDL by inhibiting the key producing enzyme in the liver.

As body produces less of this waxy fat, production of LDL receptors is increased, thus promoting greater clearance of LDL from the bloodstream.

Statins dramatically lower LDL cholesterol numbers fast and also significantly lessen the inflammatory response within the arterial walls. Ultimately, statin drugs save lives and they have therefore been hailed by the medical world as the wonder drug of this century.

No doubt, statins does save lives, but how safe are they? Lower dosage of 10 mg should be effective to lower LDL levels, but taking a higher dose increases potential side effects. For example high doses of some of these drugs have resulted in reports of fatal muscle disorder that can even cause kidney shut-down.

Other side effects include headaches, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and muscle weakness or aches.

Whilst serious side effects such as liver and severe muscle tissue breakdown are rare, they have nonetheless been recorded in statin therapy patients.

If we can therefore conclude that statin drugs are generally safe and essential treatment for those at high risk for heart disease, it will also be wise for us to heed the caveat that high dosages increase the risk of serious side effects.

Diet And Nutrition To The Defense

What if you are distrustful of taking prescription drugs in general? In the wake of drugs like Celebrex, Baycol and Vioxx, a lot of people are beginning to question the safety of taking the statin route, and have began searching for different, healthier and drug-free alternatives.

It is interesting to know that the British researchers who performed analysis as to the effect of statins on LDL also analyzed a number of studies that employed different methods of lowering LDL cholesterol numbers without the use of statin drugs. They found similar reduction in heart attack risk with these other methods.

The truth is that drugs should not be the first line of defense against high LDL levels. It is preferable to employ diet and exercise first, to combat this disease. Click here to follow the best way to lower cholesterol numbers.

More Articles On Cholesterol

What Is Cholesterol
Learn about the different types of cholesterol and treatment options here.

Fish Oil For Lowering Cholesterol
Eating fatty fish or taking omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your blood pressure and your chances of developing blood clots.

Diet To Lower Cholesterol
Diet plays an important role in lowering cholesterol. Click on the link above to find five foods that can protect your heart.

Cholesterol Test Kits
Even blood testing done by trained professionals in a lab can carry significant variability in results. Click the link above to find out if home test kits are accurate.

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