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How To Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Before we begin discussing how to reduce cholesterol levels, let's first discuss exactly what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced in the liver for various body functions. In additionally, it can be found in many foods we eat.It is needed to guarantee normal functioning of the liver, skin, nervous system, intestines and heart.

There are two types of cholesterol. First is the 'good' cholesterol, which is known as HDL cholesterol, and next is the ‘bad’ cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol.

High cholesterol levels can cause plaque development in the walls of your blood vessels. This plaque causes blood vessels to narrow in size. If the blockage is partial, you can experience chest pain, a condition known as Angina. If it is complete, you can experience a heart attack!.

In order to diminish the risk of heart disease, ideal total cholesterol levels should be less than 200mg/dl. Levels in excess of 240mg/dl are considered high. For LDL levels, it should be, optimally, less than 100mg/dl, never greater than 160mg/dl. HDL levels should be equal to or above 60mg/dl for good heart health.

It is not enough to just reduce total cholesterol levels. There are several key ratios needing to be discussed and understood.Let's say your total cholesterol levels are 200mg/dl, your LDL levels are 100mg/dl, and your HDL levels are at 60mg/dl.There are two key ratios you need to be concerned with. They are:

• Total cholesterol levels to HDL levels. Inserting the numbers of 200/60 would give you a ratio of 3.3:1. This would be considered an optimal ratio of the two aforementioned cholesterol types.

• The ratio of LDL to HDL is next. Inserting the numbers here of 100/60 would give you an optimal ratio of 1.7:1.Just lowering the total cholesterol is not enough. You must also do what is needed to get these ratios in line.

Remedies That Reduce Cholesterol Levels

1) Niacin
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, has been found to have positive results on blood levels of several key components. Niacin lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels, while raising HDL levels.

It also lowers triglycerides, which are fats found in the blood stream. Triglycerides are considered a risk factor for heart disease when found in very large amounts.Niacin may raise good cholesterol levels by as much as 35 percent.

In one study done by the Coronary Drug Project, 1,119 men who had survived a heart attack were given Niacin. They were compared against a similar control group that was not.At the end of six years, the total cholesterol levels in the study group were 10 percent lower then in the control group. After 9 years, total mortality rates in the Niacin group were 11 percent lower then the control group.

The recommended dosage of Niacin to reduce cholesterol levels ranges from 1000 to 5000 milligrams daily.

Niacin can cause rashes, flushing of the skin, aggravate gout, ulcers, or diabetes. You may also experience sweating, palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and Tachycardia, which is defined as a rapid heart rate.

Check with your physician for a more complete list of side effects.

Niacin is generally considered safe except in individuals with Chronic Liver Disease, Peptic Ulcers, or Diabetes.

2) Artichoke Leaf
Another supplement thought to reduce cholesterol levels is Artichoke Leaf, although results are mixed on this herb's efficacy.

As early as the 1930s, scientists had discovered Artichoke Leaf reduced atherosclerotic plaques in human arteries. Two chemicals in artichokes, luteolin and cynarin, may be responsible for its cholesterol lowering capabilities.

In a double blind German study, individuals were given 1800 milligrams of Artichoke Leaf daily for six weeks. These individuals were able to reduce cholesterol levels overall by 18.5 percent compared to 8.6 percent in the placebo group.

They also saw a reduction of bad cholesterol levels by 22.9 percent compared to 6 percent in the placebo group.Additionally, a favorable reduction of 20 percent in the ratio of LDL to HDL was seen in the group taking Artichoke Leaf versus 7 percent in the placebo group.

A recommended dosage of Artichoke Leaf is 300 milligrams three times a day.

It is contraindicated in individuals with gallbladder empyremam, blocked bile ducts, or any kind of bowel obstruction. It may also cause Contact Dermatitis in susceptible individuals.It is not to be taken by individuals already taking cholesterol-lowering medications.It may also interact with thyroid medications.

3) Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber, which is found in a variety of foods, has also been found to reduce cholesterol levels.

Fiber comes in two types: water-soluble and insoluble. In the 1980s, Oat Bran, a good source of soluble fiber, was found to reduce cholesterol levels causing an increase in its popularity.

Soluble fiber tends to "soak up" cholesterol, thus preventing absorption through the intestinal walls. Gel-like soluble fiber binds to bile (which contains cholesterol) and dietary cholesterol that results in the body excreting it.

In fact, it targets the 'bad' cholesterol, eliminating it from the body. Several foods are fine sources of soluble fiber. Foods such as apples, pears, brussels sprouts and kidney beans are all good sources of this fiber.

Eating 5 to 10 grams of fiber daily will reduce cholesterol levels of LDL by 5 percent. Eating 1.5 cups of oatmeal daily should do the trick.

Some fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of soluble fiber include apricots, carrots, cabbage, lemons, prunes, and sweet potatoes.

4) Monounsaturated Fat
Eating a diet high in Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA) is one of the best things you can do to reduce cholesterol levels. I know you're saying, “But isn't fat bad for me?”.

It may be hard to believe, but there is such as thing as 'good' fat. That fat is Monounsaturated Fat. From a chemical perspective, these fats are fats with one double-bonded carbon in the molecule.

Unless you're a chemistry major, that last sentence probably doesn't mean much. Let me explain.

You see, there are numerous fats that are part of the typical American diet. Some of these fats are good and reduce cholesterol levels, and some of them are bad.

Here are the bad guys:

• Saturated Fats - These fats are found in foods that are commonly firm at room temperature. Some foods containing these fats are cheese, lunchmeat, and butter. These fats will cause your 'bad' cholesterol levels to rise.

• Trans Fat - This type of fat could be worse than saturated fat. Not only does it cause LDL levels to rise, it causes HDL levels to drop. This makes you at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Many fast-food restaurants use these fats to deep-fry french fries and other foods.

Now, back to the good guys. Numerous studies have shown if your diet is rich in Monounsaturated Fat that you are less likely to die from heart disease.

Foods that have high levels of MUFA's include olives and olive oil, almonds, peanuts, canola oil, avocados, peanut oil and flaxseed oil.

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