Select Organic Food (as much as possible) and Seafood
Maximize to take high-fiber food items
Minimize to take Fat products (specially LDL Bad Cholesterol - and increase HDL cholesterol)
Avoid Smoking/Alcohol drinks
Regular Medical checkup
In these modern times, many people are changing their diet to consume more organic food rather than the traditionally grown produce. They believe that it is healthier as organic food does not contain any synthetic pesticides. So, is this group of people making the right choice?
Scientists from Britain have made a study on this. In their study, they tested 11 brands of organic vegetable soups and 24 brands of non-organic soups. When a comparison was made, it was found that the organic brands contained 9 times more salicylic acid than the non-organic brands. Four non-organic brands contained no salicylic acid at all.
It can then be said that traditionally grown crops indeed lack this salicylic acid, which is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin and helps prevent colon cancer and atherosclerosis.
Why does organic plants contain so much more Salicylic acid in organic plants as compared to traditionally grown plants?
Salicylic acid is produced naturally in plants and serves to protect them from pests, stress and diseases. In organic plants, this acid is produced more abundantly as they do not rely on synthetic pesticides. On the other hand, salicylic acid is less needed in traditionally grown plants as they have been depending a great deal on pesticides.
However, basic evolutionary theory would predict that these traditionally grown plants might gradually lose their natural ability to defend itself via the production of salicylic acid in the long run. This might be happening in the world today.
If you do not have access to organic vegetables, you should at least wash them with filtered water. If you have an ozonation unit, place the washed vegetables inside a plastic bag and fill it up with ozone. Leave the vegetables with the ozone for 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables and place in refrigerator. Vegetables so treated can last for many more days because ozone serves as an disinfectant and kill germs on the surface of the vegetables.
Dietary changes that may be helpful
Eating animal foods containing saturated fat is linked to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. Significant amounts of animal-based saturated fat are found in beef, pork, veal, poultry (particularly in poultry skins and dark meat), cheese, butter, ice cream, and all other forms of dairy products not labeled “fat free.” Avoiding consumption of these foods reduces cholesterol and has been reported to reverse even existing heart disease.
Unlike other dairy foods, skimmed milk, nonfat yogurt, and nonfat cheese are essentially fat-free. Dairy products labeled “low fat” are not particularly low in fat. A full 25% of calories in 2% milk come from fat. (The “2%” refers to the fraction of volume filled by fat, not the more important percentage of calories coming from fat.)
In addition to large amounts of saturated fat from animal-based foods, Americans eat small amounts of saturated fat from coconut and palm oils. Palm oil has been reported to elevate cholesterol. Research regarding coconut oil is mixed, with some trials finding no link to heart disease, while other research reports that coconut oil elevates cholesterol levels.
Despite the links between saturated fat intake and serum cholesterol levels, not every person responds to appropriate dietary changes with a drop in cholesterol. A subgroup of people with elevated cholesterol who have what researchers call “large LDL particles” has been reported to have no response even to dramatic reductions in dietary fat. (LDL is the “bad” cholesterol most associated with an increased risk of heart disease.) This phenomenon is not understood. People who significantly reduce intake of animal fats for several months but do not see significant a reduction in cholesterol levels should discuss other approaches to lowering cholesterol with a doctor.
Yogurt, acidophilus milk, and kefir are fermented milk products that have been reported to lower cholesterol in most, but not all, double-blind and other controlled research. Until more is known, it makes sense for people with elevated cholesterol who consume these foods, to select nonfat varieties.
Eating fish has been reported to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease in most, but not all, studies. Fish contains very little saturated fat, and fish oil contains EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that appear to protect against heart disease.
Vegetarians have lower cholesterol and less heart disease than meat eaters, in part because they avoid animal fat. Vegans (people who eat no meat, dairy, or eggs) have the lowest cholesterol levels, and switching from a standard diet to a vegan diet, along with other lifestyle changes, has been reported to reverse heart disease in controlled research.
Most dietary cholesterol comes from egg yolks. Eating eggs has increased serum cholesterol in most studies. However, eating eggs does not increase serum cholesterol as much as eating foods high in saturated fat, and eating eggs may not increase serum cholesterol at all if the overall diet is low in fat.
Egg consumption does not appear to be totally safe, however, even for people consuming a low-fat diet. When cholesterol from eggs is cooked or exposed to air, it oxidizes. Oxidized cholesterol is linked to increased risk of heart disease. Eating eggs also makes LDL cholesterol more susceptible to damage, a change linked to heart disease.
Whether or not egg eaters are more likely to die from heart disease is a matter of controversy. In one preliminary study, egg eaters had a higher death rate from heart disease, even when serum cholesterol levels were not elevated. However, another preliminary study found no evidence of an overall significant association between egg consumption, and risk of heart disease or stroke, except in people with diabetes. Until more is known, limiting egg consumption may be a good idea, particularly for people with existing heart disease or diabetes.
Soluble fiber from beans, oats, psyllium seed, glucomannan, and fruit pectin has lowered cholesterol levels in most trials. Doctors often recommend that people with elevated cholesterol eat more of these high-soluble fiber foods. However, even grain fiber (which contains insoluble fiber and does not lower cholesterol) has been linked to protection against heart disease, though the reason for the protection remains unclear. It makes sense for people wishing to lower their cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease to consume more fiber of all types. Some trials have used 20 grams of additional fiber per day for several months to successfully lower cholesterol.
Oat bran is rich in a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration passed a unique ruling that allowed oat bran to be registered as the first cholesterol-reducing food at an amount providing 3 grams of beta-glucan per day, although some evidence suggests this level may not be high enough to make a significant difference. Several double-blind and other controlled trials have shown that oat bran and oat milk supplementation may significantly lower cholesterol levels in people with elevated cholesterol, but only weakly lowers them in people with healthy cholesterol levels.
Flaxseed, another good source of soluble fiber, has been reported to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in preliminary studies. A double-blind trial found that while both flaxseed and sunflower seed lowered total cholesterol, only flaxseed significantly lowered LDL. Amounts of flaxseed used in these trials typically range from 30–50 grams per day. A controlled trial found that partially defatted flaxseed, containing 20 grams of fiber per day, significantly lowered LDL cholesterol, suggesting that at least one of the cholesterol-lowering components in flaxseed is likely to be the fiber in this product, as opposed to the oil removed from it. Controlled trials of flaxseed oil alone have shown inconsistent effects on blood cholesterol.
Doctors and researchers are interested in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—the special omega-3 fatty acid found in large amounts in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil. ALA is a precursor to EPA, a fatty acid from fish oil that is believed to protect against heart disease. To a limited extent, ALA converts to EPA within the body. However, unlike EPA, ALA does not lower triglyceride levels (a risk factor for heart disease).
Preliminary research on the effects of ALA from flaxseed has produced conflicting results. For example, ALA has improved parameters of arterial health that should protect people from heart disease, yet ALA may cause damage to LDL cholesterol. Such damage is believed to be a precursor to heart disease.
In 1994, researchers conducted a study in people with a history of heart disease, using what they called the “Mediterranean” diet. The diet was significantly different from what people from Mediterranean countries actually eat, in that it contained little olive oil. Instead, the diet included a special margarine high in ALA. Those people assigned to the “Mediterranean” diet had a remarkable 70% reduced risk of dying from heart disease compared with the control group during the first 27 months. Similar results were also confirmed after almost four years. Although cholesterol levels fell only modestly in the “Mediterranean” diet group, the positive results suggest that people with elevated cholesterol attempting to reduce the risk of heart disease should consider such a diet. The diet was high in beans and peas, fish, fruit, vegetables, bread, and cereals; and low in meat, dairy fat, and eggs. Although the authors believe that the high ALA content of the diet was partially responsible for the surprising outcome, other aspects of the diet may have been partly or even totally responsible for decreased death rates. Therefore, the success of the “Mediterranean” diet does not prove that ALA protects against heart disease.
Tofu, tempeh, miso, and some protein powders in health food stores, are derived from soybeans. In 1995, an analysis of many trials proved that soy reduces both total and LDL cholesterol. Since then, other double-blind and other controlled trials have confirmed these findings. Trials showing statistically significant reductions in cholesterol have generally used more than 30 grams per day of soy protein. However, if soy replaces animal protein in the diet, as little as 20 grams per day has been shown to significantly reduce both total and LDL cholesterol. Isoflavones found in soy beans appear to be key cholesterol-lowering ingredients of the bean, but animal research suggests other components of soy are also important.
Eating sugar has been reported to reduce protective HDL cholesterol and increases other risk factors linked to heart disease.73 However, higher sugar intake has been associated with only slightly higher risks of heart disease in most reports. Although the exact relationship between sugar and heart disease remains somewhat unclear, many doctors recommend that people with high cholesterol reduce their sugar intake.
Drinking boiled or French press coffee increases cholesterol levels. Modern paper coffee filters trap the offending chemicals and keep them from entering the cup. Therefore, drinking paper-filtered coffee does not increase cholesterol levels.76 77 Espresso coffee has amounts of the offending chemicals midway between those of other unfiltered coffees and paper-filtered coffee, but there is little research investigating the effect of espresso on cholesterol levels, and studies to date have produced conflicting results. The effects of decaffeinated coffee on cholesterol levels remain in debate.
Moderate drinking (one to two drinks per day) increases protective HDL cholesterol. This effect happens equally with different kinds of alcohol-containing beverages. Alcohol also acts as a blood thinner, an effect that should lower heart disease. However, alcohol consumption may cause liver disease (e.g., cirrhosis), cancer, high blood pressure, alcoholism, and, at high intake, an increased risk of heart disease. As a result, some doctors never recommend alcohol, even for people with high cholesterol. Nevertheless, those who have one to two drinks per day appear to live longer and are clearly less likely to have heart disease. Therefore, some people at very high risk of heart disease—those who are not alcoholics, who have healthy livers and normal blood pressure, and who are not at high risk for cancer, particularly breast cancer—are likely to receive more benefit than harm, from light drinking.
Olive oil lowers LDL cholesterol, especially when the olive oil replaces saturated fat in the diet. People from countries that use significant amounts of olive oil appear to be at low risk for heart disease. A double-blind trial showed that a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, lowers cardiovascular disease risk by 25%, as compared with a 12% decrease from a low-fat (25% fat) diet. The trial also found that low-fat diets decrease HDL cholesterol by 4%, which is undesirable, since HDL cholesterol is protective against heart disease. Diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil do not adversely affect HDL levels. Although olive oil is clearly safe for people with elevated cholesterol, it is, like any fat or oil, high in calories, so people who are overweight should limit its use.
fatty acids and margarine
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are found in many processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. The highest levels occur in margarine. Margarine consumption is linked to increased risk of unfavorable changes in cholesterol levels and heart disease. Margarine and other processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided.
However, special therapeutic margarines are now available that contain substances, called phytostanols, that block the absorption of cholesterol. The FDA has approved some of these margarines as legitimate therapeutic agents for lowering blood cholesterol levels. The best-known of these products is Benecol. The cholesterol-lowering effect of these margarines has been demonstrated in numerous double-blind and other controlled trials.
Garlic is available as a food, as a spice in powder form, and as a supplement. Eating garlic has helped to lower cholesterol in some research, though several double-blind trials have not found garlic supplements to be thusly effective. Although some of the negative reports have been criticized, the relationship between garlic and cholesterol lowering remains unproven. However, garlic is known to act as a blood thinner and may reduce other risk factors for heart disease. For these reasons, some doctors recommend eating garlic as food, taking 900 mg of garlic powder from capsules, or using a tincture of 2 to 4 ml, taken three times daily.
Preliminary research consistently shows that people who eat nuts frequently have a dramatically reduced risk of heart disease. This apparent beneficial effect is at least partially explained by preliminary and controlled research demonstrating that nut consumption lowers cholesterol levels. Of nuts commonly consumed, almonds and walnuts may be most effective at lowering cholesterol. Macadamia nuts have been less beneficial in most studies, although one controlled trial found a cholesterol-lowering effect from macadamia nuts. Hazelnuts and pistachio nuts have also been reported to help lower cholesterol.
Nuts contain many factors that could be responsible for protection against heart disease, including fiber, vitamin E, alpha-linolenic acid (found primarily in walnuts), oleic acid, magnesium, potassium, and arginine. Therefore, exactly how nuts lower cholesterol or lower the risk of heart disease remains somewhat unclear. Some doctors even believe that nuts may not be directly protective; rather, people busy eating nuts will not simultaneously be eating eggs, dairy, or trans fatty acids from margarine and processed food, the avoidance of which would reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Nonetheless, the remarkable consistency of research outcomes strongly suggests that nuts do help protect against heart disease. Although nuts are loaded with calories, a preliminary trial surprisingly reported that adding hundreds of calories per day from nuts for six months did not increase body weight in humans —an outcome supported by other reports. Even when increasing nut consumption has led to weight gain, the amount of added weight has been remarkably less than would be expected, given the number of calories added to the diet. Given the number of calories per ounce of nuts, scientists do not understand why moderate nut consumption apparently has so little effect on body weight.
Number and size of meals
When people eat a number of small meals, serum cholesterol levels fall compared with the effect of eating the same food in three big meals. People with elevated cholesterol levels should probably avoid very large meals and eat more frequent, smaller meals.
Lifestyle changes that may be helpful: Exercise increases protective HDL cholesterol, an effect that occurs even from walking. Total and LDL cholesterol are typically lowered by exercise, especially when weight-loss also occurs. Exercisers have a relatively low risk of heart disease. However, people over 40 years of age, or who have heart disease, should talk with their doctor before starting an exercise program; overdoing it may actually trigger heart attacks.
Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, in part because weight gain lowers HDL cholesterol. Weight loss reduces the body’s ability to make cholesterol, increases HDL levels, and reduces triglycerides (another risk factor for heart disease). Weight loss also leads to a decrease in blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease in people with high blood pressure.
Smoking is linked to a lowered level of HDL cholesterol and is also known to cause heart disease. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of having a heart attack.
The combination of feelings of hostility, stress, and time urgency is called type A behavior. Men, but not women, with these traits are at high risk for heart disease in most, but not all, studies. Stress or type A behavior may elevate cholesterol in men. Reducing stress and feelings of hostility has reduced the risk of heart disease.
Nutritional supplements that may be helpful: Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber that is derived from konjac root. Controlled and double-blind trials have shown that supplementation with glucomannan significantly reduced total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, and in some cases raised HDL cholesterol. Effective amounts of glucomannan for lowering blood cholesterol have been 4 to 13 grams per day.
The combined results of nine double-blind trials indicate that supplementation with beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) effectively lowers total and LDL cholesterol. All trials used 3 grams per day, taken for three to eight weeks.
Vitamin C appears to protect LDL cholesterol from damage. In some clinical trials, cholesterol levels have fallen when people with elevated cholesterol supplement with vitamin C. Some studies report that decreases in total cholesterol occur specifically in LDL cholesterol. Doctors sometimes recommend 1 gram per day of vitamin C. A review of the disparate research concerning vitamin C and heart disease, however, has suggested that most protection against heart disease from vitamin C, is likely to occur with as little as 100 mg per day.
Pantethine, a byproduct of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), may help reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the body. Several preliminary and two controlled trials have found that pantethine (300 mg taken two to four times per day) significantly lowers serum cholesterol levels and may also increase HDL. However, one double-blind trial in people whose high blood cholesterol did not change with diet and drug therapy, found that pantethine was also not effective. Common pantothenic acid has not been reported to have any effect on high blood cholesterol.
Chromium supplementation has reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol in double-blind and other controlled trials, although other trials have not found these effects. One double-blind trial found that high amounts of chromium (500 mcg per day) in combination with daily exercise was highly effective, producing nearly a 20% decrease in total cholesterol levels in just 13 weeks.
Brewer’s yeast, which contains readily absorbable and biologically active chromium, has also lowered serum cholesterol. People with higher blood levels of chromium appear to be at lower risk for heart disease.179 A reasonable and safe intake of supplemental chromium is 200 mcg per day. People wishing to use brewer’s yeast as a source of chromium should look for products specifically labeled “from the brewing process” or “brewer’s yeast,” since most yeast found in health food stores is not brewer’s yeast, and does not contain chromium. Optimally, true brewer’s yeast contains up to 60 mcg of chromium per tablespoon, and a reasonable intake is 2 tablespoons per day.
High amounts (several grams per day) of niacin, a form of vitamin B3, lower cholesterol, an effect recognized in the approval of niacin as a prescription medication for high cholesterol. The other common form of vitamin B3—niacinamide—does not affect cholesterol levels. Some niacin preparations have raised HDL cholesterol better than certain prescription drugs. Some cardiologists prescribe 3 grams of niacin per day or even higher amounts for people with high cholesterol levels. At such intakes, acute symptoms (flushing, headache, stomachache) and chronic symptoms (liver damage, diabetes, gastritis, eye damage, possibly gout) of toxicity may be severe. Many people are not able to continue taking these levels of niacin due to discomfort or danger to their health. Therefore, high intakes of niacin must only be taken under the supervision of a doctor.
Symptoms caused by niacin supplements, such as flushing, have been reduced with sustained-release (also called “time-release”) niacin products. However, sustained-release forms of niacin have caused significant liver toxicity and, though rarely, liver failure. One partial time-release (intermediate-release) niacin product has lowered LDL cholesterol and raised HDL cholesterol without flushing, and it also has acted without the liver function abnormalities typically associated with sustained-release niacin formulations. However, this form of niacin is available by prescription only.