Alternative Treatments to Reduce Cholesterol

Treatments to Reduce Cholesterol

Alternative Treatments to Aid in Reducing Cholesterol

Cholesterol, or lipids, is a necessary fatty substance needed for the body to function. Cholesterol is needed for essential functions such as hormone production and bile acid creation to help digest the fats and oils in our foods. Every single cell utilizes fat as a source of energy. 

There are different types of cholesterol, often referred to as "good" and "bad" cholesterol. High cholesterol is a condition that is becoming very common due to dietary choices and low physical activity. Due to the prevalence of this condition, drugs like statins and fibrates have been developed to reduce high cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Though considered relatively safe medications, statins and fibrates are not recommended for everyone who has elevated cholesterol.  

Those with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease but who have been diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia can use alternatives to put cholesterol levels into a more normal range. Increasing dietary fiber, plant sterols, and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet can help reduce "bad" cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular disease risks. 

According to an article in Very Well Health, consuming 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber a day can lower cholesterol by 18%. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol by binding to cholesterol molecules in the small intestine. Once inside the small intestine, the fiber attaches to the cholesterol, preventing them from entering your bloodstream. All vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes contain some soluble fiber, but here are some foods that have a good amount of soluble fiber

Plant sterols are found in all foods of plant origin and are molecules that look like cholesterol, blocking your cholesterol absorption. Plant sterols are found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, grain, and fruits. An article from 2019 in the European Journal of Nutrition found that taking in two grams of plant sterols a day helped lower LDL and triglyceride levels. Achieving this dose might be challenging if your diet is not predominately vegetarian. Supplementation is available; however, food sources are best. 

Omega-3 oils are found in high amounts in fatty fish and can help reduce triglycerides and LDL. Most individuals struggle to get the recommended daily amount of omega-3 oils in their diets. Supplementation can help meet the recommendation and, if dosed at least at one gram of daily intake, can lower LDL and triglycerides. 

Elevated lipids are being seen more throughout our population, especially in younger people, increasing the risk of earlier onset of cardiovascular disease. By adopting a diet devoid of processed and fried foods and aiming to increase moderate activity daily, cholesterol levels may remain in a healthy range. To assure your cholesterol level are well managed, it is encouraged to have labs drawn at least annually to monitor these levels.


 RESOURCES: 

1. https://www.verywellhealth.com

2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-soluble-fiber

3. Blom WAM, Koppenol WP, Hiemstra H, Stojakovic T, Scharnagl H, Trautwein EA. A low-fat spread with added plant sterols and fish omega-3 fatty acids lowers serum triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in individuals with modest hypercholesterolaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia. European Journal of Nutrition. 2019;58(4):1615-1624. doi:10.1007/s00394-018-1706-1

4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17281-heart-healthy-eating-to-help-lower-cholesterol-levels#resources

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