Sunday, July 1, 2012

Myths and Facts about Cholesterol

In the office party Srinivasan was not eating anything. When his boss enquired for the reason, he said, “Sir, in the last health check up I was diagnosed with high level of the cholesterol.” His boss Saraf laughed and said, “Sri, your concern for high Cholesterol is ok, but it has more to do with other factors and food has very little role to play. Further, Cholesterol is not always a bad omen. It actually plays an important role in helping cells do their jobs.”

Srinivasan countered, “No, sir! Doctor has asked me to remain at arms length from all sort of oil, Ghee and Butter.”

• The cholesterol is generally associated with fatty foods, but that is not true. Most of the waxy substance is made by our own bodies. The liver produces 75% of the cholesterol that circulates in our blood. It is only other 25% which comes from food. But excess of everything is bad. The cholesterol levels are precariously high in more than 100 million Indians. The good news is high cholesterol is simple to detect, and there are many ways to bring it down.

• High cholesterol does not show any symptoms that is why most of the people never realise that there is high level until damage deep within the body are caused. Over time, too much cholesterol may lead to a build up of plaque inside the arteries that can trigger heart disease.

• Cholesterol testing results show your levels of "bad" cholesterol, "good" cholesterol, and triglycerides. It is required to avoid and reduce the bad - called low density lipoproteins or LDL.

• Some of the following measures can help in the matter.

Cholesterol Buster: Eat More Fiber

• Diet changes offer a powerful way to fight high cholesterol. If you've ever wondered why some cereals claim to be heart-healthy, it's the fiber. The soluble fiber found in many foods helps reduce LDL. Good sources of soluble fiber include whole-grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as kidney beans.

Cholesterol Buster: Know Your Fats

• No more than 35% of your daily calories should come from fat. But not all fats are equal. Saturated fats -- from animal products and tropical oils -- raise LDL cholesterol. Trans fats carry a double-whammy, boosting bad cholesterol, while lowering the good kind. These two bad fats are found in many baked goods, fried foods (doughnuts, french fries, chips), stick margarine, and cookies. Unsaturated fats may lower LDL when combined with other healthy diet changes. They're found in avocados, olive oil, and peanut oil.

Cholesterol Buster: Smart Protein

• Meat and full-fat milk offer plenty of protein, but they are also major sources of cholesterol. You may be able to reduce LDL cholesterol by switching to soy protein, such as tofu, at some meals. Fish is another great choice. It's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.

Cholesterol Buster: Low-Carb Diet

• There's growing evidence that low-carb diets may be better than low-fat diets for improving cholesterol levels. In a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health, people who followed a low-carb plan had significantly better HDL (good cholesterol) levels than those who followed a low-fat plan.

Cholesterol Buster: Lose Weight

• Exercise keeps you fit and help in reducing the weight as well as LDL. If you give up smoking

Treatment: Medications

• If high cholesterol runs in your family, diet and exercise may not be enough. In that case, medication can give your cholesterol levels an extra nudge. Statins are usually the first choice. They block the production of cholesterol in the liver. Other options include cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile acid resins, and fibrates. Your doctor may recommend a combination of these medications.

Treatment: Supplements

• Certain dietary supplements may also improve cholesterol levels. These include flaxseed oil, fish oil, and plant sterols, such as beta-sitosterol. Prescription niacin, a b-complex vitamin, has been found to raise good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol. Niacin found in ordinary supplements should not be used to lower cholesterol. Fenugreek seeds, Holy basil also help in the problem

Can the Damage Be Undone?

• It takes years for high cholesterol to clog the arteries with plaque. But there are evidences that atherosclerosis can be reversed, at least to some degree. Several studies show that a low-fat vegetarian diet, stress management, and moderate exercise can chip away at the build-up inside the coronary arteries.

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