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Posts Tagged ‘LDL’

How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 3

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 30, 2009

In the last post I gave you the first step towards lowering cholesterol. Here is the third. Remember, by implementing these basic steps, you’re establishing a solid foundation that will support heart health and increase the effectiveness of medications and supplements.

Step 3: Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.

Weight has a significant impact on your heart health and cholesterol levels. Weight loss alone may lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels. Losing as little as 10% body weight could drop your cholesterol back to the heart healthy range.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 2

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 28, 2009

In the last post I gave you the first step towards lowering cholesterol. Here is the second. Remember, by implementing these basic steps, you’re establishing a solid foundation that will support heart health and increase the effectiveness of medications and supplements.

Step 2: Adopt a heart healthy lifestyle.

This means eating a diet that support heart health and including physical activity as part of your daily routine.

Here are some basic guidelines for a heart healthy diet to lower cholesterol:

  • Saturated fat intake should be limited to less than 7% of your total daily calories.
  • Daily trans fat intake should be less than 1% of your total calorie intake.
  • Cholesterol should be limited to less than 300 mg/day.
  • Eat 25-35 grams of dietary fiber. The needs to include an adequate intake of soluble fiber, which will promote lower LDL levels.
  • Include sources rich in omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Some benefits of omega 3 fatty acids include lower triglycerides, increased HDL cholesterol, and slower build-up of arterial plaque.

Here are basic guidelines for physical activity to lower cholesterol.

  • Include at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

This is the latest recommendation of The Health and Human Services Department. In order to see substantial health benefits, include at least 150 minutes, 2 ½ hours, of moderate-intensity activity each week. If times a factor, you can see the same benefits by bumping up the intensity and being vigorously active 75 minutes (1 hr. 15 min.) each week.

By include regular physical activity you will raise HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides.

Stay tuned for step 3.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 1

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 26, 2009

It’s often easier to turn to supplements or medications to lower cholesterol. However, the effectiveness of these treatments will not be as great if you do not have a solid foundation in place that supports heart health. Over the next few posts I’ll give you three basic steps you can implement now to promote lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease.

Step 1: Know and understand your cholesterol lab results.

A simple blood test will check your cholesterol levels. This test is also known as a lipid profile. You will learn your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. By knowing the “breakdown” of your lipid panel you (or your MD/dietitian) will be able to determine the best steps to take for results.

The American Heart Association Recommends that everyone over the age of 20 know their cholesterol levels.

Stay tuned for step 2.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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Lower Cholesterol – Do you understand your lab results?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on February 19, 2009

It’s very possible your MD orders lab work and you have no idea what or why you’re having blood drawn. Well, let’s clear up the confusion when it comes to your cholesterol labs.

The terms “lipid panel”, “lipid profile”, and “lipoprotein profile” are used interchangeably to order the same set of labs. To make reading this easier, I’m going to use “lipid profile” from here on out.

“Lipid” is simply a medical term for “fat”. A lipid profile measures fatty substances in your blood. Cholesterol is one type of fat.

When you eat food containing cholesterol or when your body produces cholesterol and releases it into your bloodstream, the cholesterol will attach to a protein. This package of cholesterol plus a protein is called a lipoprotein (lipid or fat plus protein). A lipid profile measures lipoprotein levels in your blood.

Lipid profiles include five components:

LDL – “bad” cholesterol
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol carries mostly cholesterol, some protein, and minimal triglyercerides throughout your circulation. LDL should be less than 130 mg/dL, ideally less than 100 mg/dL.

VLDL – “bad” cholesterol
VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol contains minimal protein and mainly transports triglycerides. VLDL should be less than 40 mg/dL.

Triglycerides
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood, not a type of cholesterol. Triglycerides are frequently used to estimate VLDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Here’s the calculation: triglycerides divided by 5 equals VLDL cholesterol. Triglycerides should be less than 200 mg/dL, ideally less than 150 mg/dL.

HDL – “good” cholesterol
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol removes cholesterol from your bloodstream and carries it back to the liver. I like to think of HDL as a vacuum cleaner, picking up cholesterol LDL leaves behind in your arteries, the more HDL the better. HDL should be greater than 40 mg/dL, ideally greater than 60 mg/dL.

Total cholesterol
Cholesterol is essential to bodily functions, such as building cells and producing hormones. However, too much cholesterol will build up on artery walls, form a plaque, and potentially “plug” the artery resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Total cholesterol is calculated from the above components (Total cholesterol = HDL + LDL + VLDL). Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL.

Do you see how if you only know your total cholesterol, you only have one piece of the lipid profile?

Now, sometimes your results will include ratios or a risk score. Here’s an explanation of what those numbers mean.

Risk Score
A risk score is based on you lipid profile results, sex, age, family history, and various other risk factors. If you have a high risk score for heart disease, it’s best to speak with your MD to evaluate your risk score.

Cholesterol:HDL Ratio
You want a low ratio of cholesterol to HDL. A ratio lower than 4.5 is good, but 2 or 3 is best. You can calculate your cholesterol to HDL ratio by dividing total cholesterol by HDL. For example, your total cholesterol is 195 and your HDL is 55. 195 divided by 55 equals a ratio of 3.5.

It’s actually not your total cholesterol that has the greatest impact on your heart disease risk. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL is a critical factor. If your total cholesterol is less than 200, but your ratio is 5, you are still at increased risk for developing heart disease.

LDL:HDL Ratio
This ratio compares the amount of bad (LDL) cholesterol to your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. You want a ratio less than 3.5, ideally less than 2.5. To calculate your ratio, divide LDL by HDL. For example, your HDL is 55 and LDL is 100. 100 divided by 55 equals a ratio of 1.8.

Triglyceride:HDL Ratio
A low ratio of triglycerides to HDL is best, ideally less than 2. To calculate your triglyceride to HDL ratio, divide your triglycerides by your HDL. For example, your triglyceride level is 200 and your HDL is 55. 200 divided by 55 equals a ratio of 3.6.

Lipid profiles are commonly ordered to assess your heart disease risk. Your doctor or dietitian will use the results to determine the best treatment to reduce your risk.

A lipid profile is beneficial, because you know your “good” cholesterol level and “bad” cholesterol levels. The interventions that work best to raise HDL and lower LDL differ, so knowing all your numbers helps you make the most effective changes.

You’re probably wondering why a lipid profile isn’t always ordered versus simply checking your total cholesterol (and possibly HDL). Cost and time always play a part and if your risk for heart disease is low, then a quick and less expensive screening makes sense. If you are at increased risk, a more complete assessment (lipid profile) may be more appropriate. Everyone’s situation is unique, so it’s best to discuss what’s right for you with your MD.

Now, to receive regular heart health and weight loss tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson, subscribe to The Heart of Health today!

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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Reduce Heart Disease with Glucomannan

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on December 16, 2008

Have you heard of glucomannan? Glucomannan is a type of soluble fiber. Research has shown that for every 1-2 grams of daily soluble fiber intake, LDL (bad) cholesterol is lowered 1%. Check out this post from Janie Ellington to learn more about glucomannan and how it reduces heart disease risk:


Benefits of Glucomannan Against Risk Factors for Heart Disease


All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD
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Trans Fats Banned in California

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on October 13, 2008

Good news if you live in California! Starting in 2010 restaurants will be banned from using trans fats in food preparation. This will be a major benefit to those of you struggling to lower total cholesterol, low LDL “bad” cholesterol, or raise HDL “good” cholesterol. To improve your lipid profile you should follow a diet with less than 30% daily calories from fat. Ideally your intake of trans fatty acids should be zero for heart health. Since numerous restaurants affected will be nationwide chains, hopefully the trend will start to spread and avoiding trans fats when dining out will not be an issue after a few more years.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
eNutritionServices

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Brown rice – New whole grain health claim.

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on August 26, 2008

I’ve always recommended clients make a switch from white rice to brown rice as a way to boost dietary fiber intake.  A diet high in dietary fiber (ideally 25-35 grams/day) is linked with reduced heart disease risk by lowering LDL and total cholesterol levels.

The FDA just approved a new ruling that will allow brown rice to use a health claim on its label.  So, when you’re shopping for groceries, be on the look out for the new whole-grain logo added to the brown rice packaging and don’t forget to reach for the brown rice over the white!  A 1/2 cup of cooked  brown rice contains two grams of fiber.

Brown rice takes extra time to prepare (~45 minutes).  I checked out the nutrition label on brown “minute” rice recently and it’s another option, still providing 2 grams of dietary fiber per 1/2 cup serving.  Best of all, only takes ~10 minutes to prepare.  Haven’t tried it yet, so can’t vouch for its flavor, but I have added it to my shopping list.

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
The Heart of Health

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Plant sterols for heart health. . .

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on July 11, 2008

One way to improve heart health and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol is to include plant sterols as part of your everyday diet.  Plant sterols, also called phytosterols, actively remove cholesterol from the body by blocking cholesterol absorption in the intestine.

 

Eating 2 grams of plant sterols each day will on average reduce your LDL cholesterol 10%.

 

Plant sterols occur naturally in foods at low levels, so some foods (such as margarines, mayonnaise, and dairy based drinks) have been fortified.  Here are some options you can use to increase your plant sterol intake and promote a healthy heart!

 

Avocados, 1 small 0.13 grams
Corn Oil, 1 tablespoon 0.13 grams
Sunflower Seeds, 1/4 cup 0.19 grams
Oat Bar with plant sterols, 1 bar 0.4 grams
Orange Juice with plant sterols 1.0 gram
Vegetable oil spread with plant sterols, 1 tablespoon 1.0 gram
Fruit & yogurt flavored minidrink with plant sterols, 3 oz. bottle 2.0 grams

 

If you like this health tip, subscribe to The Heart of Health to receive bi-weekly heart health and weight loss tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson.

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Do I need to be concerned about high HDL levels?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on June 22, 2008

My LDL is 50, my HDL is 160 and my triglycerides 90.  Do I need to be concerned about my high HDL levels?

The above question is one I recently answered for a visitor to The Health Central Network.  I thought readers of this blog may be interested in the answer as well, so here it is. 

HDL is the good cholesterol and does not contribute to arterial plaque that leads to heart disease.  HDL actually does the opposite and reduces the plaque lining your artery walls.  A high level is a good thing and reduces your heart disease risk.  If taking medications, speak with your MD to double check whether your medication is playing a role.

With an HDL of 160, your total cholesterol is going to be over 200.  However, the high HDL level negates the negative of a total over 200.  You are doing fine, keep up the good work!

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lower Cholesterol


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