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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can I lower my cholesterol without medication?

    I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol following a recent blood test and medication has been suggested. I don’t like the idea of being on regular medication is there anything else I can do or is this my only option?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 6

    Thanks

    Lisa Yates

    Dietitian

    I graduated with a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Sydney in 1996 and have been working part time in private practice … View Profile

    Using medications for lowering blood cholesterol can depend on many things - how high your cholesterol reading is, do you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, do you already have diabetes, are you overweight? Work with you doctor to review your risks and discuss with them the pros and cons of cholesterol lowering medications. Make an informed decision based on all the information gathered.

    Assuming you have a blood cholesterol reading slightly above normal with no family history of related conditions as outlined above then trialing diet and exercise can be a good first step.

    Exercise - seek clearance from your doctor to start exercising if they haven't already given you the go ahead or you are not regularly exercising already. At least 30mins of exercise every day can help reduce cholesterol. For weight loss do 60mins or more.

    Diet - since our liver makes cholesterol from saturated fat in our diet aim to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat and replace with healthy fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
    Low fat diets need to be replaced by healthy fats diets.Sources of healthy fats include nuts, avocado, seeds, salad dressings and cooking oils such as nut oils, olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil etc and the margarines made from these oils.

    Also include foods high in fibre and low GI carbohydrates such as wholegrains eg oats, pasta, legumes, most fruits and vegetables such as sweet corn, new potatoes

    For individual advice seek help from an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

    Lisa Yates Consultant Dietitian Adv APD 

  • 1

    Thanks

    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    If you have a familial high cholesterol, where it is caused by your genetic makeup, you will probably have to take drugs to lower it. However, while you might be taking drugs you should improve your lifestyle.  Lowering your cholesterol levels might reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Cholesterol, a waxy fat, is used by your body to produce hormones, aid in digestion and manufacture cell membranes. But too much cholesterol may lead to a narrowing of your blood vessels. As the fats harden they turn into plaque and cling to the interior of your arteries, raising your blood pressure and forcing your heart to work harder to circulate blood through smaller blood vessels. If a small clot forms it may lead to total blockage of an artery, cutting off the blood supply to your brain and causing a stroke.
     Exercise regularly. In three months, moderate aerobic exercise can lower triglyceride levels and raise HDL, or good, cholesterol levels between 5 and 10 percent. For the best results, work out at least 30 minutes daily.
     Eat a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol. Don't eat more than 300 mg of cholesterol daily. A  100g  portion of most lean meats contains 70 mg of cholesterol. All fats have nine calories per gram, and a tablespoon of oil has about 120 calories. Limit saturated fats and trans  to no more than 10 percent of your total calorie consumption. Trans fats are found in manufactured products eg. Biscuits, cakes, pastries.
    Replace saturated fats with heart-healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Use olive oil instead of butter and eat fish instead of beef or pork. Monounsaturated fats lower your total cholesterol and LDL levels and normalize blood clotting. Avocados, nuts and nut butters and seeds are especially good sources of monounsaturated fats.
    Add fibre to your diet. Soluble fibre helps slow the absorption of cholesterol in your body. Try to eat at least 5 g of soluble fibre daily. Apples, pears, legumes, oat bran and oatmeal are all good sources of soluble fiber. A 1.5-cup serving of oatmeal has 6 g of soluble fiber.
    Eliminate other risk factors such as smoking and obesity, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Other risk factors, such as genetics or age you may have little control over.


  • 1

    Thanks

    Stephen Tsousis

    Psychotherapist

    Stephen for over 30yrs continues to study,experiment and explore a multidisciplinary approach to Psychotherapy.Know Yourself -is his motto.Stress, Anxiety & Depression (SAD ) are major … View Profile

    High cholesterol will be reduced if one eats baked beans and porridge daily. I need to follow my own advice

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    You certainly can reduce your cholesterol through dietary measures, but I would advise you to stay on your medication until your doctor gives you the all clear. Here are my tips for reducing cholesterol through your diet

    • Reduce saturated and trans fats (e.g. butter, fatty cuts of meat, cakes, pies, sausage rolls, pastries, coconut oil etc)
    • Increase marine omega-3 fatty acids (i.e. fish, fish oil supps)
    • Replace saturated fats with poly and monounsaturated fats (e.g. avocado, nuts and seeds, fish)
    •  Increase dietary fibre (soluble in particular) – fruit and vegetables, beans and legumes, oats and psyllium
    • Swap highly refined low fibre carbohydrates with wholegrain high fibre, low GI carbohydrates (e.g. breads, cereals, rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous, noodles, legumes, lentils)
    • Increase your physical activity (at least 30 minutes per day)

    For more expert dietary advice, always consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). To find an APD near you head to the Dietitians Association of Australias website (www.daa.asn.au) and click on the “find an Accredited Practising Dietitian” tab

  • 1

    Thanks

    Angela Peris

    Registered Nurse

    I am passionate about helping people with Health and Wellbeing - with extensive knowledge and skills on cardiology and critical care nursing I have published … View Profile

    I can see that you have received many answers and advice. They are all good. All I can add to this is cleansing your Liver. Your liver makes cholesterol. Liver also acts as a filter. It is like the filters we have in the house (exhaust fans that filters air). When these filters get clogged up we clean them to make sure we maintain its efficiency. Yet, we fail to clean the filter in our bodies. Everything we eat, drink, inhale & rub has to go through the liver. All the processed foods we eat, the preservatives and additives that are added to food, goes through the liver. Yet, we fail to clean this filter that belongs to us.
    Therefore, my advice would be to do a simple liver cleansing program - resting your liver and taking a Liver tonic with Milk thistle for a week or 2 and then following all the dietary & exercise adivice you have received from other professionals and repeat your blood cholesterol level in 5-6 months.
    Taking medications for everything is not the answer. If you can change your lifestyle to live a healthier life, with natural therapies and regular exercises then you can reap the benefits for longer, happier life. If we take medication straight away, then we depend on these to correct what we created with an unhealthy lifestyle. It is not difficult to do a simple liver cleansing program. You don't have to follow a vigorous liver detox diet - just rest your liver from everything that tax your liver. Then strengthen it with a liver tonic.
    This is my advice, as I beleive we can make minor lifestyle changes and live a healthier life.

  • Angela Peris

    Registered Nurse

    I am passionate about helping people with Health and Wellbeing - with extensive knowledge and skills on cardiology and critical care nursing I have published … View Profile

    I can see that you have received many answers and advice. They are all good. All I can add to this is cleansing your Liver. Your liver makes cholesterol. Liver also acts as a filter. It is like the filters we have in the house (exhaust fans that filters air). When these filters get clogged up we clean them to make sure we maintain its efficiency. Yet, we fail to clean the filter in our bodies. Everything we eat, drink, inhale & rub has to go through the liver. All the processed foods we eat, the preservatives and additives that are added to food, goes through the liver. Yet, we fail to clean this filter that belongs to us.
    Therefore, my advice would be to do a simple liver cleansing program - resting your liver and taking a Liver tonic with Milk thistle for a week or 2 and then following all the dietary & exercise adivice you have received from other professionals and repeat your blood cholesterol level in 5-6 months.
    Taking medications for everything is not the answer. If you can change your lifestyle to live a healthier life, with natural therapies and regular exercises then you can reap the benefits for longer, happier life. If we take medication straight away, then we depend on these to correct what we created with an unhealthy lifestyle. It is not difficult to do a simple liver cleansing program. You don't have to follow a vigorous liver detox diet - just rest your liver from everything that tax your liver. Then strengthen it with a liver tonic.
    This is my advice, as I beleive we can make minor lifestyle changes and live a healthier life.

  • Mel Haynes

    Nutritionist

    Chef, Scientist and Nutritionist. I specialise culinary nutrition and disease prevention with plant based diets. www.culinetica.com.au View Profile

    YES!

    There is some excellent evidence that diets which consist mostly of plant based foods is the most effective way to reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease.(1,2)



    For more info on this you can see:

    http://www.pcrm.org/
    http://www.nutritionfacts.org/   
    http://www.diseaseproof.com/  

    I would also reccomend looking Amla (indian goose berry)  it comes powdered and is cheap and available to indian spice stores.  

    It has been shown to be very effective at reducing cholesterol. (3)

    1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002914998007188
    2. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1588S.short
    3. http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637486.2011.560565

  • Stuart Donaldson

    Exercise Physiologist

    Accredited Exercise Physiologist with ESSA providing services to clients in the Hervey Bay region, including entitled DVA clients (Entitled Department of Veterans' Affairs clients may … View Profile

    All of the answers so far focus on the nutritional aspect of cholesterol, and while this is an important part, exercise is also an important aspect.

    Research shows that by being in the healthy weight range for BMI (body mass index) which is less than 24.9, you have lower overall risk of cardiovascular disease. Also important is your waist circumference (around your mid section). Aim for less than 94cm for men and 80cm for women to be considered ‘low risk’.

    Being a healthy weight is very important, but research also shows that being active helps to improve cholesterol even without weight loss, particularly by increase the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic ('cardio') exercise, such as walking, even aiming for up to an hour. Weight loss and reducing unhealthy fats in the diet and increasing fibre help to lower the LDL or bad cholesterol.

  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    As mentioned above activity is an important component improving your cholesterol profile. Triglycerides are often a neglected aspect of cholesterol but can be modified by exercise, as well as diet (predominately sugar and carbohydrate intake).

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