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High Cholesterol -- Causes and Top
10 Natural Remedies

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February 18, 2012, last updated February 6, 2016
By Alison Turner, Contributing Columnist


High cholesterol is such a widespread problem, that it now
can rightly be called an epidemic. According to the Centers
for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC),  approximately
one in every six adults in the United States has high
cholesterol --- more than 16% of the population. What is
high cholesterol? How can you lower your cholesterol level?
Are there any natural remedies that can help?

High cholesterol is defined  as having a total cholesterol level
of 240 mg/dL and higher.   While people of all ages and
backgrounds can get high blood cholesterol, there are slight
differences in the percentages of Americans with high
cholesterol by race, sex and age.

In all, 9.7% of African American males have high cholesterol,
versus 16.9% of Mexican American males, and women are
more likely to have it than men (16.2% versus 13.5%,
respectively).  Fewer than 10% of males between 20 and 34
have high blood pressure, but the percentage more than
doubles for men between 35 and 54, nearly 21% of which
have high cholesterol.  

In women the jump is even more drastic with age, as about
10% of women from 20 to 34 have high cholesterol, versus
over 30% of women from 55 to 64.

How Do We Get High Cholesterol, and Why Does it Matter?  






























Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that our bodies need for
day-to-day functions.  Our bodies naturally make the amount
of cholesterol that is necessary to survive, but cholesterol is
also found in foods.  This means that any cholesterol we get
from food is extra that the body must break down.  

If we consume more cholesterol than the body can break
down, cholesterol can build in the arteries in deposits called
“plaque,” which limits the amount of blood that can pass,
and could eventually lead to a heart attack and other heart
conditions.   

The CDC reports that people with high cholesterol have
nearly twice the risk of heart disease, which is the leading
cause of death in the United States.


[Update:

The CDC's advise runs counter to a recent widely-reported
2014 study from the "Eggs for Health Consulting" group
based in Las Vegas which claims that the amount of
cholesterol in your diet bears very little relation to your risk
for heart disease. Given the interest of the sponsor in
promoting the consumption of eggs, the greater wisdom
would be to continue to monitor your cholesterol levels.]


Most of us have heard of “good” cholesterol and “bad”
cholesterol, but the facts on where each of these come from
and what they do is less well known.  

Cholesterol is carried in the blood on particles called
lipoproteins, of which there are two main kinds, low-density
lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).   LDL
is what is more commonly known as “bad” cholesterol
because high levels of LDL cholesterol lead to plaque buildup
in arteries.  HDL cholesterol, the “good” kind, absorbs and
carries cholesterol to the liver, which flushes it from the
body.  Thus, high levels of good cholesterol, HDL, actually
reduce the risk of heart disease.

[Update:
Normal LDL cholesterol should not exceed 100 and normal
HDL cholesterol should be at least 40. (Read more about
foods that raise HDL cholesterol levels  and foods that help
you lower LDL cholesterol.)]

What Can We Do?  

These statistics seem high and that’s because they are.  
However, the CDC also has some good news to report:  
levels of high cholesterol in the United States are actually
dropping.  The proportion of Americans between the ages of
20 and 74 with high cholesterol has decreased by half since
the early 1960s.   The CDC suggests that losing any
unwanted weight, regular exercise, and a healthy diet are all
ways to help keep your cholesterol low.  There are also
various options for prescription medications to help control
LDL levels of cholesterol, the type of which depends on the
individual’s situation.  

Here are 10 specific steps you can take to help keep your
cholesterol level low.

1.  
Go On, Have Another Cup of Coffee.  It seems like every
week the verdict swings from good to bad on coffee, so that
most of us give up wondering if we should drink it or not by
the time we’ve finished our first, steaming cup.  


A study conducted in 2010 by several Japanese experts,
including Dr. Katsunori Ikewaki with the Department of
Internal Medicine, National Defense Medical College in
Saitama, Japan,  is one more testament to the “pro”s coming
from coffee.


Eight healthy people volunteered their blood samples from
before and 30 minutes after the consumption of coffee or
water.  Analysis of the blood samples showed that
“cholesterol efflux by HDL,” that is, how much cholesterol is
being taken out of the body by the good cholesterol, was
increased in people who consumed coffee, versus those
drinking water.

With this knowledge, perhaps we can finally drink our coffee
in healthful, lowered-cholesterol, peace.

2.  
Almonds: Unrequited Love and Low Cholesterol.  “It was
inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him
of the fate of unrequited love.”  Gabriel Garcia Marquez may
have found one of the best ways to use almonds in
literature.  A group of scientists with the Department of
Nutrition at the School of Public Health with Loma Linda
University in California have found a more scientific way to
use the tasty nut.  

In 2011 the team, led by K. Jaceldo-Siegl,  tracked how the
cholesterol level of over 80 adults was affected by “almond
supplementation” to their diets for 24 weeks.  The results
showed a decreased total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol
ratio, as well as lower LDL to HDL ratios (that is, after
consistently adding almonds to their diets, these people had
more of the good kind of cholesterol than they did before,
when compared to their total cholesterol levels).  The study
presents “strong evidence” that almonds have a cholesterol-
lowering effect in people with high cholesterol.

So while reading Love in the Time of Cholera may forever
attach almonds to unrequited love, science might also
encourage us to see the more hopeful, cholesterol-reducing,
impact of almonds.  

3.
Fish Oil: A Fat of Many Trades.  Fish oil is recommended by
experts and home-remedy buffs alike as a remedy against
conditions as varied as depression to
dry eyes to painful
periods during a woman’s menstrual cycle.  

In 2009 a team of scientists from the Institute for
Translational Medicine and Therapeutics  and the  
Cardiovascular Institute, both at the University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Children’s Hospital
of Philadelphia, including Tomoyuki Nishimoto with the first,  
found scientific evidence that fish oil also has favorable
cardiovascular outcomes.  The team fed mice a fish oil diet
for four weeks, which they compared with mice fed on diets
from other oils, including soybean oil and coconut oil.  

Fish oil promoted reverse cholesterol transport in mice more
so than the other oils.  In other words, more cholesterol is
removed from the mice on a fish oil diet than those on other
oil diets.

The best part for some of us is that you don’t have to eat
fish to get the benefits of fish oil – supplements are readily
available, and may also include other nutrients such as
calcium, iron, and other vitamins. (Read more about the
health benefits of salmon.)

4.
The Power of Egg.

Continue reading         page 1        
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VLDL-The Other Cholesterol

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Even though peanut butter is high in
fat, studies show it can help improve
your cholesterol profile.