High cholesterol?

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Do any of you have this health concern and have you done anything about it?

I have high LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol. I'm very interested in trying a natural approach to lower the bad number - through diet and exercise. Have any of you been successful that way and what specifically are you doing that has worked?
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I have mixed results: one is really good and one is just okay. I can't recall which is which. I'm supposed to eat low fat cheese as a result, but I eat so little high fat dairy that I'm not too concerned about being strict with that rule.

I wish there was an easier way to keep track of levels than fasting before a blood test. The test makes me sicker and less likely to exercise and eat well than not being tested does.
I've had issues with cholesterol. I mainly did the diet and exercise thing, but I did start taking fish oil supplements. My overall level is still slightly elevated, but my good cholesterol and ratio of good to overall are so good that my doctor isn't overly concerned about getting it lower.

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Fish oil supplements will help raise your HDL (good cholesterol)--and I have verified that the do via blood tests. I'm now giving DH Red Yeast Rice supplements they are supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol. I won't know if they helped until after his next blood test which isn't for a while. My friend takes them and I've heard about them from a nutritionist I used to know. You might check into them too.
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Thanks for the responses! I love butter and cheese, but I'm feeling that I can be strong about this.

I don't think I want to take fish oil pills; I've read they can repeat on you so I'll look into the red yeast supplements. Good idea!
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Protein sensitive but can use occasionally
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Sometimes try roller sets - classic glamor but I prefer my curls.
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Last edited by curlypearl; 02-08-2012 at 07:30 PM.
Oh yes -- I've been battling cholesterol since my early 30s (it runs -- in a big way -- in my family...my teeny tiny mom, who walks miles every day and eats a stellar diet -- still has cholesterol issues even with medication).

I've tried it all -- red yeast rice, fish oil pills (I learned the hard way that I can't tolerate them), garlic supplements, Cholest-Off pills, weight loss, exercise, diet -- even with medication my cholesterol still fluctuates wildly.

I can at least keep the numbers fairly reasonable with medication; my doctor has had me on fibrates for the past couple years because my triglycerides have been my highest number. I've been on almost all of the statins, most of the fibrates, plus Vytorin (statin/zetia combo), Lovaza (prescription fish oil) and prescription niacin (which was HELL, omg, the flushing and red-hot skin, ugh).

I just try to keep my diet reasonable (we don't EVER have fast food), continue to fight the weight gain that has plagued me since I turned 35 (I'm 47 now), take my medication and get my blood tested regularly. It sucks -- but I'm cursed by my genes. :P
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I've also had high cholesterol since my early 20s... it's part of my family medical history. Pretty much everyone in my family dies of heart attacks or strokes, or both. I have lowered my bad cholesterol by using olive oil for everything I cook.. I still had high overall cholesterol, but my proportion of good to bad was improved by it.

That being said even with the family history, I have a grandmother who's 90 has had two heart attacks in her 50s and is still going strong. She has never smoked a day in her life. My mother who was at a healthy weight, who exercised and ate right, but smoked cigarrettes (less than half a pack daily) died at age 54 of a massive heart attack.

I think diet or meds can help, but if you smoke too, you may as well kiss any of the benefits of good diet or medication good bye.
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I have mixed results: one is really good and one is just okay. I can't recall which is which. I'm supposed to eat low fat cheese as a result, but I eat so little high fat dairy that I'm not too concerned about being strict with that rule.

I wish there was an easier way to keep track of levels than fasting before a blood test. The test makes me sicker and less likely to exercise and eat well than not being tested does.
Originally Posted by ninja dog
I guess I don't understand why fasting before a blood test would be a problem? I had one a few weeks ago, scheduled at 9 am. 12 hour fast, I never eat after 9 ish at night anyway, so why would a 12 hour fast be any different than a usual day?

I don't know much about the dairy fat thing in regards to cholesterol, but I know mine improved after I quit baking homemade bread on a regular basis. I thought I was saving money by baking, but really I just put on weight. I saved more money and lost weight and lowered my cholesterol by skipping the bread in general, both homemade and storebought.
I've also had high cholesterol since my early 20s... it's part of my family medical history. Pretty much everyone in my family dies of heart attacks or strokes, or both. I have lowered my bad cholesterol by using olive oil for everything I cook.. I still had high overall cholesterol, but my proportion of good to bad was improved by it.

That being said even with the family history, I have a grandmother who's 90 has had two heart attacks in her 50s and is still going strong. She has never smoked a day in her life. My mother who was at a healthy weight, who exercised and ate right, but smoked cigarrettes (less than half a pack daily) died at age 54 of a massive heart attack.

I think diet or meds can help, but if you smoke too, you may as well kiss any of the benefits of good diet or medication good bye.
Originally Posted by BekkaPoo
i practically have an 'addiction' to olive oil, love the stuff! have even gotten my grown, married kids and their spouses to use olive oil on corn on the cob and they love it. my cholesterol is borderline, but the good cholesterol is "amazingly" high (quoting my dr), so he is pleased with the numbers.

i do know as some of you have said, that it really is mostly in the genes, and you can make it better or worse with diet. and that some people can eat nothing and their bodies would still make cholesterol.

but i think the fish oil supplements (i've been taking omega 3s for many yrs now per one of my drs) and olive oil replacing other fats is worth a try.
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Luckily, I don't have high cholesterol. It's not a real problem in my family, although my 80+ mother does take medication. However, I can suggest a low carb diet to help lower cholesterol. When DH and I first went on low carb about 15 years ago, we both lost 30+ pounds. Two friends who did have cholesterol issues decided to try it. Both of them were able to go off their cholesterol medications.

We ate a lot of fat and still do. I'm not as strict (used to stay under 50 and for weight loss under 30 a day) with the carbs, so my cholesterol is now around 180 (and I'm 60.) When I say that I'm not as strict, I still do watch the carbs, just don't count them because I know what I'm eating.
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First line of defense, take a good look at your diet, and exercise(particularly plenty of cardio). If one's high cholesterol is going to respond to diet, there are two types of people, those who respond by lowering their carbs rather than saturated fats, and those who respond by lowering their saturated fats and calories in general. For a very long time now the party line has been to lower saturated fats, and while that might work in some people, it does NOT work in all. Just like some people thrive on high-protein, higher fat diets, while others don't feel right or get to a normal weight and good blood numbers without lowering their fats and keeping protein to lighter forms only, while eating unrefined carbs.
On the exercise front, while weight lifting is excellent for lots of stuff, it's really getting in enough cardio to make a difference, to the tune of 45-60 minutes, 5 days a week. That will get the HDL up, which is what you want, and lower the troublemaking LDL. The size of the particles of LDL also matter - if one has what they call "small-particle LDL" one is at greater risk of heart attack than someone of the same reading who has larger particles. How they measure that aspect, I don't know.
There are some good cholesterol supplements, most notably red yeast rice, which the Chinese have used for a long time. It's a natural form of statins and better tolerated than the ones that the doc is so eager to hand out to people who even have the slightest bit of high cholesterol. Keep in mind that the normal measurements for both cholesterol and blood sugar(they're related)have actually been lowered. For instance, no one was considered to have high cholesterol until it got to 250, now 220 is considered borderline high, and they really prefer one to have it well under 200 now for a "normal" reading. Similar with blood sugar. It wasn't even considered pre-diabetic until one got to 125, now it's 100, which puts a lot more people into the "pre-diabetic" category so Big Pharma can make more money off of medications. Same with the "high cholesterol". If anything, I'd try the diet, supplementation and exercise route first and note what happens within a few months.
Then, for some people, it truly is hereditary - look around your family, ask them what their cholesterol is. If everyone seems to have it on the high side despite a healthy lifestyle, it's hereditary, and depending on just how high it is, then, one might indeed have to have medication. For some people, it's the only way. I'd try other stuff first though if my situation wasn't that dire.
Last but not least, in the hormonal shifts of menopause, the dropping of estrogen levels often results in an increase in both cholesterol and blood sugar, even in women who previously had low readings. This happened to me personally, with a borderline high cholesterol reading and just on the edge of being pre-diabetic, despite a very healthy lifestyle.
All food for thought here, and best of luck!
Fish and walnuts, baby!

I did not lower my overall cholesterol but raised the good cholesterol so high that the doctor says all is well.

I was vegetarian but ate more dairy; replaced most of the fat in my diet with "good fats"; walnuts for breakfast most days, more olive oil (we already ate a lot of olive oil, though), and olives, avocados, added salmon or tuna at least once a week, cut back on dairy (but do still use full-fat dairy).

Work out 4 or 5 times a week, cardio. Am skinny, but was always like that.

Basically the change I made was I went to a HIGHER fat diet, but with a large chunk of that fat from the alleged good fats, and I am very happy to have the high good cholesterol, I think that is actually healthier than having low levels overall.
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Henna!
It seems counterintuitive, but yes, good fats help to clear bad fats.
"The challenge is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everybody else."
"...rationality is not necessary to sell things.."
My staples: Mane n Tail (cowash), Garnier Fructis Sleek n Shine (leave in condish), Grapeseed oil or shea butter (sealing), Organic Root Stimulator Elasticitea (leave-in condish & light hold)
Thank you very much, everyone. Fortunately, I like salmon and walnuts. I was exercising pretty regularly when I wasn't working full time, but it's much harder with a f/t job. The exercise accountability thread here on nc.com is helpful.

Heart disease doesn't run in my family; cancer kills us so I just figured I could get away with eating a high sat/fat diet since that wasn't likely to kill me anyway. However, I'd like to avoid meds. if possible. I'll be tested again in 3 months. I'm drinking coffee again - I tried to give that up but I just can't restrict everything!
2/c and some 3A.
Protein sensitive but can use occasionally
Highly porous. Color over grey.
Best 1st day method: Super Soaker
Stylers: Mix Curls in a Bottle into everything for shine. Terrible pj
Sometimes try roller sets - classic glamor but I prefer my curls.
Every day is a gift
FWIW, here's my off-normal cholesterol story:

Had high cholesterol for years and then through an unrelated issue discovered I had food allergies: Gluten, Soy, Dairy. This was via an actual Allergist, MD and using an elimination diet.

Oddly, when I mentioned this to my gynecologist (who keeps proving that she's one of the smarter Dr's I've bumped into) her response was "Ah, that will fix the cholesterol issue". When I asked her what she meant she said that there is research showing that patients with problems digesting carbs (food allergy or sensitivity to carbohydrate-containing foods) end up with high cholesterol. I, of course thought she was a bit bonkers because allergies can only be caused by proteins so I didn't think about it much at the time. However, 3 years later--and having seriously upped my potato chip consumption and now using lard for pie crusts--my total cholesterol is 173!!!

YMMV. Go figure.
I just saw a news story where a cardiologist recommended Krill Oil....said it was tolerated better by people that couldn't take Fish Oil.
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now using lard for pie crusts
Originally Posted by GirlPilot
Using lard for pie crusts is the ONLY way to go, no matter what your cholesterol level!!
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No problem with high LDL or overall cholesterol, but I do have to work a bit at keeping my HDL high enough. Have had excellent results with Wholemega salmon oil capsules - other brands/types made no difference. I have no fish burps with it either.

Flaxseed or krill oil also work (beware the latter if allergic to shellfish - krill are microscopic little crustaceans. I can't take it for that reason).

Watching trans and saturated fats, oats, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, (all preferrably raw or dry roasted), avocados, etc. all help.

ETA - sorry, hadn't finished reading and didn't see the previous krill oil rec and some of the other info I repeated.
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Thanks, Ladies! I like all the good ideas.

I have to admit I fell off the wagon today. We had really outstanding home baked cookies today (I'm not usually attracted by sweets but these were special) and an assortment of cheeses to die for. Which I might do literally if I don't behave.

I was bad and I'm feeling guilty. I used to have such great self-control - it just evaporated after I had brain surgery. I guess I feel life is so uncertain - see my siggie.
2/c and some 3A.
Protein sensitive but can use occasionally
Highly porous. Color over grey.
Best 1st day method: Super Soaker
Stylers: Mix Curls in a Bottle into everything for shine. Terrible pj
Sometimes try roller sets - classic glamor but I prefer my curls.
Every day is a gift
I was bad and I'm feeling guilty. I used to have such great self-control - it just evaporated after I had brain surgery. I guess I feel life is so uncertain - see my siggie.
Originally Posted by curlypearl
I can completely understand that, and don't be too hard on yourself! A splurge every now and then just keeps you sane...now, if you were eating yummy cookies and cheese every day, that might be cause for worry.

I splurged last night for Valentine's Day but today I'm getting back on track. One day at a time, as they say!!

I have my next cholesterol test at the end of March.
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~ Wendi in IL
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