If you have been following my Cholesterol story here on my blog you will know that I was diagnosed with high cholesterol some months ago and have been waiting for results from the Hospital and decided to change direction and go to the local clinic.
I got my results within a week and that’s why I wish I could lie and say my cholesterol level has dropped over the last three months but it has not.
In fact it has gone up from 7.2 to 7.6.
To say I am p………..ed off is an understatement but not being one to give up I have made a few changes.
First of all its important to distinguish here between the good and the bad cholesterol.
If you are not sure of the difference read my earlier article here.
So…drum roll !…here are my results. Total Chol= 7.6- High. Any level above 6.2 is high LDL= 4.9 – High. Any level between 4.1-4.9 is high HDL = 1.9-Good. Any level 1.6 and above is best Triglycerides =1.67 –desirable. Levels below 1.7 are desirable
So lets do an analysis here……
My HDL is good and the HDL removes the LDL ( the baddy) from the blood vessel walls so although my LDL is high the fact that my HDL is good is comforting.
Triglycerides are the main constituents of vegetable oil (typically more unsaturated) and animal fats (typically more saturated)
As I am not a meat eater then my result show with my low triglyceride levels which is good.
Research indicates that high triglyceride levels could multiply the bad effects of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes so in this aspect I am fine.
My HDL levels are good and that’s because I make sure that I do power walking for 50 mins at least three times a week. On the other days I am constantly up and down stairs in college and never take the lift so I get that exercise as well and some days it could be up and down 2-3 flights of stairs at least 3-4 times in a day .
If you remember from my earlier article the HDL is the lipoprotein that cleans up the bad LDL and takes it back to the liver to be reprocessed. I kind of look at HDL as the cleaner who scrubs the blood vessel walls keeping them healthy.
Ok so all so far looking good but it cannot last…now we get to the nasty ..the LDL.
This is my bug bare!!! And I am really annoyed about this level. The clinic said I need to make an appointment to see the Doctor but as you have probably guessed by now …I make my own decision on that and never bothered. …..tend to be a bit stubborn like that!
So …my next steps
Now bear in mind that my diet is already very healthy but not working the way I want it to work for lowering my level of LDL. I am changing my breakfast to porridge…. For me that is no mean feat as I hated porridge as a kid when my grandmother used to force me to eat it. The binding effects of the beta gluten in porridge have made me get to like it! I am buying Krill/High grade Codliver oil from the health shop and taking two desert spoons every day I am taking a Benecol every day I will add flaxseed to my lunch time soup or breakfast. At least 2 dessertspoons of flaxseeds a day My evening meal will be fish (baked or boiled) with vegetables at least 3 times a week. My snacks will consist of walnuts or almonds and only a handful as they are high in calories. Of course this is all the ideal and I would guess that the odd chocolate digestive biscuit may pass my way!….I am only human after all!
Ok….. that’s me sorted.
As you can probably sense I am very determined with this journey and I will be testing myself in three months time and give you an update.
If you are in the same position as me then I hope this article has helped.
Ok there is a tone of sarcasm in that headline but I just had to write about my experience just a week ago.
As you know I have been on a quest to lower my cholesterol and have been posting my story on my blog here.
Some 7 weeks ago I went to the hospital for blood tests which is something I do every 8 months or so as I had a pituitary adenoma removed some 10 years ago ( story for another time) and they need to check my hydrocortisone and thyroxine levels on a regular basis.I asked the consultant if he could please include a cholesterol test among the others I had to get done ..So I had a cholesterol test done and a week later flew out to S.Africa for a month to see family and friends.(used to live there)
When I arrived back just over 10 days ago I looked for the blood results in my post….none there.
I had previously asked the consultant to send me a letter with the results in addition to the letter they would send to my GP. He made a note of this during our meeting. So back to looking for the results and guess what they weren´t in the post.
Since it Was at least 7-8 weeks since the blood tests were taken I rang the GP to find out and they had not received them either.
So I rang the Hospital and inquired about the results.
This is what I was told by a person in the endocrine ward.
“yes I have found your details but they have not been typed up yet”
…”Do you know when they will be type up?”
“Not sure …”
But they were taken 7 weeks ago is there any reason why they have not been typed up?
“Well its because some people have been off sick and also maternity leave”
(Guess that makes it ok then ?…..put someones health on hold)
“I will try to get them typed up and sent out to you”
That was the conversation…. From a top Hospital in the UK
Wow…I was completely blown away by her statement…why on earth would you say that to people who call concerned that they have not received their blood results.
So staff being off on maternity leave and staff sick is the reason for poor client care and not delivering the care values of the organisation?
I gave up on the Hospital and went to my local clinic and next week I shall get the results.
So check on my blog and I shall let you know if my quest at lowering my cholesterol is working.
Many of us who are confident in our cholesterol knowledge, may be in for a surprise.
Knowing their cholesterol numbers-and where they should be-is not really enough to protect our health …sorry to burst that bubble!
To protect your health, we need to first recognize some key myths surrounding cholesterol.
Here are the top five key myths that surround Cholesterol
Myth No. 1:
If my total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are “normal,” I don’t need to worry about heart disease.
Wrong. Patients who get their total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol results back as “normal” may actually be at risk because standard cholesterol tests fail to measure many cholesterol abnormalities that can lead to heart disease….oops.
In fact statistics show that almost half of all patients who have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol, as measured by the standard cholesterol test. I hate being so negative!
Myth No. 2:
If I exercise and eat healthy, I don’t need to worry about heart disease.
I am afraid that is just not true. Many people who are at risk or already suffer from heart disease exercise regularly and eat right. That’s because genetics play a significant role in heart disease. Studying twins is the best way to look at the effect of genetics and one study where one was lean and athletic and the other heavier and more sedentary, found that the brothers tended to show the same cholesterol response to high-fat and low-fat diets.Proof of the influence of genetics
Myth No. 3:
Women aren’t as susceptible to heart disease as men.
This myth is one I find surprising as it couldn’t be further from the truth. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women. Nearly twice as many American women die of heart disease and stroke as from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer….that is scary. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and women tend to have higher cholesterol than men starting in their 40s.
Myth No. 4:
The routine cholesterol test gives an accurate measure of my LDL cholesterol.
Sorry to once again rock the boat but it is a known fact about the routine cholesterol test that it estimates LDL cholesterol, rather than directly measures it. This in itself can result in a significant underestimation of a patient’s LDL level-and resulting heart disease risk. We just cannot win can we ?
Myth No. 5:
If my good cholesterol (HDL) is high, I am protected against heart disease.
This may appear true, but there’s a catch: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) consists of subclasses (HDL2 and HDL3). While people with higher HDL2 are more protected against heart disease, those with more HDL3 may actually be at increased risk-even if they have normal total HDL.
These include Flora pro.activ and Benecol yogurt shots, as well as other products containing stanols and sterols. These naturally occurring molecules, which are found in plants, block the absorption of dietary cholesterol, which is then excreted with other waste.
Studies have shown that plant sterols reduce cholesterol levels by seven to ten per cent within three weeks, as part of a diet low in saturated fat.
You need to consume 2g in one go alongside your biggest meal of the day, each day, to get the full effect. The best form is the yogurt shot drinks that provide this amount of plant sterols alongside just under 40 calories and 1.4g of fat. You need to eat six teaspoons of fortified margarine to get the same amount of sterols, which delivers 150 calories and 18g of fat, although low-fat margarines with sterols are now also available.
Drink with your main meal as sterols reduce the amount of fat absorbed. If you take with your morning coffee or small amounts through the day it will not produce the same benefits
The high fermentable-fibre content of beans and pulses means that they cannot be digested easily by the gut. This fibre binds to cholesterol so that it is removed through waste. High-fibre bread can be added to the diet to boost fibre intake further.
A meta-analysis of 67 studies on dietary fibre and cholesterol levels revealed that consuming more fibre helped reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by a small but significant amount.
Fibrous foods such as beans also trick the body into absorbing less saturated fat, which can help control weight and protect arteries from heart disease.
Take about Eighteen grams a day. Around 5g will come from oat-based products and you can get the rest from just a slice of high-fibre toast and two tablespoons of beans. Fruit and veg will also boost fibre intake.
Just swapping white bread for wholemeal can lower cholesterol levels, a manageable step for everyone.
Most nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pecans and peanuts, are good for lowering cholesterol. However, avoid salted varieties, especially if you have raised blood pressure. It is not clear how nuts lower cholesterol, but it might be because they contain plant sterols as well as monounsaturated fats that protect blood vessels from damage. They are also high in fibre and Vitamin E
In 2010, an American analysis of 25 studies on nut consumption and blood fat levels found that eating a portion every day (eight to ten nuts, or a small palm-full) reduced overall cholesterol by five per cent and was particularly good for people with high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
Take between 25g and 50g of nuts daily.
Nuts are very filling, so not only do they reduce cholesterol, but they can stop you snacking on too many other fatty foods afterwards. While nuts are high in calories, it is unlikely that all the energy is available to the body.’
Soya milk, soy nuts, tofu and soya yogurts may help the liver to take ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream. Using soya to replace dairy and meat can also displace saturated fat from the diet.
There is some evidence, including a 2011 study, that soy protein can help reduce total cholesterol.
Although the effects were modest, some experts say that because soy products such as tofu often replace meat in the diet, they reduce the intake of saturated fat from other sources.
Experts recommend having at least two to three portions a day. That is equivalent to half a litre of soya milk and a soya yogurt. The reduction in cholesterol may be as much as five per cent, but scientific proof for this is limited.
Start with one portion a day and slowly build it into the diet from there. ‘If you don’t like soya, follow the other tips instead,’ advises Catherine Collins.
Olive oil and rapeseed oil, which contain mainly monounsaturated fats, neither increase nor decrease cholesterol levels.
However, they help to make the artery walls stronger, meaning that they are less likely to be damaged by cholesterol. These fats are also cleared easily by the body.
Studies suggest that replacing saturated fat such as lard and butter with these oils results in a fall in cholesterol. It may also stop LDL causing inflammation in the arteries, a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Two tablespoons a day used in cooking. A 2002 study found that consuming this amount of olive oil each day decreased total cholesterol by eight per cent in six weeks. Generally, studies suggest that virgin olive oil is best.
Polyunsaturated fats from sunflower oils were considered to be as good as olive oils, but recently it has emerged that having too much of them causes oxidation, meaning they may increase furring of the arteries. However, remember that polyunsaturated fats are still better than butter and lard.
Oats contain compounds called beta glucans, which give them their paste-like consistency? The beta glucans form a thick gel inside the digestive tract and bind to cholesterol in the gut, helping to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the body. The gel and cholesterol are then excreted as waste.
Analysis of 12 studies involving more than 1,000 people showed that adding beta glucans each day to your diet via porridge, other oat-based cereals and oatcakes reduced cholesterol by up to five per cent within three months.
Three grams of beta glucans a day. This is equivalent to a small bowl of porridge, three oatcakes and two slices of oat bread. This would also contribute about 5g of your daily fibre intake.
Studies show beta glucan is good for heart health and it’s easy to eat more oats. There are now even breads with added oat bran. But people need to try to eat three portions a day on a regular basis to have an effect.
just 6 months ago I was diagnosed with high cholesterol.
The consultant who diagnosed me decided that I should go on Statins.
I went ahead with getting the prescription but never took the tablets As I lecture on health sciences I have a habit of researching medical conditions and basically making my own decisions as to what I take and what I do not take. I made my own decision not to take Statins. I have been making modifications and changes to my diet and hence this article that will help those of you who also have the same problem.
Your cholesterol is too high. Well, perhaps not specifically you, but thousands of Britons and Americans have this news broken to them by doctors every day. …I am one of them and I make my own decisions on what I do about it.
We all have an amount of this special type of fat in our blood. It is essential for many bodily functions, but most of us – in fact 60 per cent – have too much.
So what exactly is cholesterol and why is it important that levels are kept low?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver and used to build cell walls, It creates a protective glove around nerves and makes other chemicals such as hormones. It is an essential element to our biological makeup
Cholesterol passes round our bodies by combining with protein to form a protective coating around tiny balls of fat absorbed from our diet – termed lipoproteins. The word lipo means fat
The purpose of this coating is to hold fat together, so we don’t have ‘oil slicks’ of fat in our bloodstream.
The two lipoproteins usually measured are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL is like a bulldozer– big clumps of fat and protein that bounce along the arteries and can only be cleared from our system by the liver. As it travels, fat can break away and enter the artery walls, becoming embedded. This build-up where the artery wall gets thicker is called atherosclerosis and it causes the arteries to narrow so blood cannot get through. This results in blood clots that can trigger a heart attack or stroke.
HDL is known as ‘good cholesterol’. It is much smaller in size and hoovers up the fat deposits from the artery wall as it moves around the body. This is why it’s important to know how much LDL and HDL are in your blood, as the ratio between these two types of fat is what really matters when it comes to risk.
Now that we know what cholesterol is then what causes our levels to rise?
Cholesterol levels are controlled by our genes and also diet. In Western society, more people have high cholesterol than in countries with a low-fat diet, such as Japan. Eating foods high in saturated fat, such as butter, cream, processed meat such as sausages and fast foods, means that our cholesterol goes up. It is therefore important that we measure our cholesterol to keep track of what is happening with our arteries.
How do we measure our cholesterol?
Because of the job that each type of cholesterol does as described above, it is the ratio between the LDL and the HDL that is important. This is a measurement that can easily be done at your GP surgery. The result given to you is the volume of cholesterol in a measurement called millimoles per litre of blood – or mmol. The target is to have an LDL reading below 3mmol and a total cholesterol reading (which takes into account the HDL and LDL) of 5mmol.
People at high risk of heart disease – those with high blood pressure, who are overweight, older and may have family history of the disease – are told to get their total cholesterol lower, to 4mmol, with an LDL of 2mmol.
Scores for total cholesterol above 8mmol will mean the person is at medium to high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), depending on age and blood pressure. Even a reading of 5 or 6mmol may be too high if you have other risk factors, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Now let me labor on this point here. Your reading of your cholesterol levels cannot be looked at in isolation. This is where many people get confused. It is the combination of cholesterol along with other risk factors that triggers alarm bells.
I had this very discussion with my GP when my levels were diagnosed as high. I have no other risk factors for Heart disease. I do not smoke, I exercise regularly, I am not overweight and I have if anything low blood pressure and not high. It was a result of our discussion that My GP agreed to let me go it alone and reassess a few months down the line. I will keep you up to date with my progress on my blog here
How often do I need to get a test?
After the age of 40, your GP should check your cholesterol every five years. If you have a family history of premature heart disease or raised cholesterol, you should tell your GP as soon as possible and would be eligible for tests before the age of 40.
Will I need to take statins?
If your total cholesterol is above 5mmol, most doctors will tell you to review your diet. If it is a lot higher, they may tell you to take statins because these drugs are likely to reduce cholesterol by 20 to 40 per cent – a massive drop. Doctors will prescribe statins to anyone with a 20 per cent chance of developing cardiovascular disease in the next decade. They will work out this risk based on a range of personal details. But they will still say you need to improve your diet as well. I have my own opinion on statins that I will publish in a separate article and let you know.
So how much can diet alone help?
Diet can reduce cholesterol levels by ten to 20 per cent, which significantly decreases heart-disease risk. Studies show that for the average person, the drop is 13 per cent. For some of us, this may be enough.
How long does it take to work?
To slash cholesterol by as close to 20 per cent as possible, you’ll need to adopt a healthy eating plan for at least three months. If you don’t see changes after three months, talk to your doctor. For some, a healthy diet does not have a great effect. Once your cholesterol has reduced, you’ll have to keep up the good work and stick to your new eating plan. It is an eating plan for life
Just how do we alter our diet to adopt a health eating plan and reduce our cholesterol?
Much of the health advice on lowering your cholesterol is vague, and it leads to many misconceptions and myths.
So the million dollar question… can diet alone be used to bring down high cholesterol – or is it essential that we leave it all to statins?
The answer for very many people is yes, you CAN reduce your levels significantly through making changes in your diet. That is exactly what I intend to do with my own cholesterol levels.
Should we stop eating eggs? Aren’t they high in cholesterol? In fact, the answer is no. No food is prohibited, so you can still eat cheese, red meat and chocolate, within the limits of a low-fat diet.
Confusingly, there are hundreds of foods that carry labels claiming they can protect your heart or cut cholesterol. They do work, but you have to take them in a specific way to reap the benefits.
I have included in a seperate article here on a simple step-by-step guide – which includes building six food types into your diet – and you may be able to lower your reading by up to 20 per cent in three months.