How to Lower Your Cholesterol

Today on facebook, I read an interesting article posted on the Pritikin Longevity Center page. I have written about Pritikin in the past and believe it is a very healthy path for controlling one's cholesterol. I find, however,  I wander off a bit and at my last check-up my cholesterol had increased a bit so this was a good reminder.

There was ground-breaking research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which studied 8,800 European patients who had all previously suffered heart attacks. The study found that those who were able to reduce their LDL levels with high dose statins to a level of 81 reduced their risk of a coronary event like heart attack or stroke compared to patients who only reduced their LDL level to 104 by taking the usual-dose statin therapy. In an editorial accompanying the study, Christopher P. Cannon, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote that aggressively lower LDL is the ideal – “lower is better”.   Drug-free alternatives like Pritikin are important.

In these studies, mega-doses of statins drove LDL levels way down but mega-doses also had side effects including muscle pain, memory loss and elevated liver enzymes. “That is why drug-free alternatives like the Pritikin Program are so important”, advises Dr. William McCarthy, UCLA School of Public Health and member of the Pritikin Scientific Advisory Board. “For people who cannot tolerate maximum doses of statins, or for those wanting to minimize their dependence on drugs, the Priitikin Program of diet and exercise – or a combination of low-dose statins plus the Pritikin Program – offers a much safer option for lowering LDL cholesterol to levels significantly below 100. In research on more than 4,500 men and women following the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise, LDL levels plummeted 23% in just three weeks. In a study by UCLA scientists in conjunction with the nonprofit Pritikin Foundation, men and women doubled their reduction in cholesterol, averaging a 39% drop when they supplemented regular-dose statin therapy with the diet and exercise lifestyle of the Pritikin Program.

Pritikin offers Dietary and Lifestyle Tips to Lower LDL levels:
 Limit your intake of foods full of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol which include butter, fatty flesh like red meat, full-fat and low-fat dairy, palm oil and coconut oil. Top sources of dietary cholesterol include egg yolks, organ meats and shellfish. One type of fat – omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to protect against heart disease. Good sources are cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, herring and sardines.

Limit non-fat dairy to 2 servings daily. Limit meat, poultry and fish to no more than 3.5 to 4 ounces per day from the list below listed from best to worst.
a. Omega 3 rich fish, best choice.
b. Mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops)
c. Crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, lobster, crawfish)
d. Poultry (chicken, turkey – white meat only)
e. Game meat (bison, venison, elk, ostrich)
f. Red Meat (beef, pork, lamb, veal) worst choice

Eat a lot more fiber-rich foods (especially soluble fiber from foods like beans, oats, barley, fruits and vegetables). Excellent sources include oats, oat bran, barley, peas, yams, sweet potatoes and other potatoes, as well as legumes.

Vegetables rich in soluble fiber include carrots, beets, okra and eggplant. Fruits richest in soluble fiber are berries.Choose protein-rich plant foods (such as legumes or beans, nuts and seeds) over meet. Nuts and seeds have been proven to modestly lower LDL cholesterol levels. To avoid gaining weight don’t eat more than 1 ounce daily.Lose as much excess weight as possible. Do keep in mind that it’s important to limit fat intake, even so-called “good” fats like olive oil, because any fat is dense with calories.Take plant sterol supplements. A daily intake of 1 to 2 grams of plant sterols has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Your best choice is CholestOff (by Nature Made).Take psyllium (such as Metamucil). To get the cholesterol-lowering benefit, take 1 teaspoon with water no more than 15-30 minutes before a meal.

Try these steps to see if it will lower your cholesterol. I am going to be trying these tips myself as my LDL cholesterol has crept up after my going to Pritikin in the past. I am going to recommit to this program and see if I can get my LDL down to 80.
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