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Controlling Your Cholesterol
Natural Ways to a heart-friendly lifestyle.
The fact that you are reading this article just about guarantees that you're not a regular at the fast food drive-thru window. And if you have ever smoked, you probaly gave it up a long time ago. Good thing, too. These behaviors are tantamount to a one-way ticket to the doctor's office.
At this point, most of us are suffciently informed about the basics of cholesterol and it's two main types: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). It may also not be ground-breaking news to you that it is important not only to reduce LDL levels if they are found to be high, but that there must also be a type of balance between both kinds in order to maintain as healthy a heart as possible. By finding this harmonious relationship between "good" cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol, you may be saving your heart from numerous problems in the future.
So where do you start? How can you determine if your heart is "good" cholesterol friendly? Before anything, a discussion with your doctor may help, especially if you have already been diagnosed with high cholesterol. Then you must keep in mind that there is more than one contributing factor in this heart-healthy equation so you will need to look at a number of things. Roger Mason, the author of Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs, gives readers a few questions to consider. How much exercise do you get everyday? Do you drink alcohol? Do you drink Coffee? Do you smoke cigarettes? If you find that you are someone who exercises very little and has a fondness for alcohol, coffee and cigarettes, you may want to make changes in your nutritional routine.
According to Mason, studies have shown that, "A single bout of walking has the potential to acutley affect the blood lipid profile of premenopausal as well as postmenopausal women." As for men, other studies have produced similar results, concluding that, "A single session of exercise performed by untrained hypercholestermic men alters blood lipid and apolipoprotein concentrations." No matter wheater you are a male or female, that walk to the corner store or jog on the treadmill can have significant impact. You read it right, just one session.
If you happen to be a fan of alcohol, don't fret too furiously. In the advisory, "The Truth About Women and Heart Disease," distributed by the National Heart Foundation (NHF), studies show that, "Those who consumer one or two alcoholic drinks per day lowered their risk of a stroke by a whopping 45%." However, the NHF does remind readers that the key to this lifestyle is moderation, and should be well regulated.
As for a diet that can help balance your cholesterol levels, foods and beverages can play a crucial role in potentially setting your heart up for failure. The author of The Fat Flush Foods, Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S., informs readers about some of the best "cholesterol Zappers" to eat. Her laundry list of items looks something like this: lemons, salmons, broccoli, tomatoes, cranberries, spelt, zucchini, almonds, whey protein, flaxseeds, sweet potatoes, jicama, and olive oil. Garlic, too, is a legendary heart-healthy food.
Supplementation for extra cholesterol support
If it seems as though your cholesterol may need a little more adjusting, it might be benificial to incorporate supplements into your exercise and diet regimen. William B. Parsons, Jr., M.D., the author of Cholesterol Control Without Diet: The Niacin Solution, suggest using specific supplements in addition to using cholesterol-lowering drugs, or "statin" drugs. His choice of supplements is niacin, a nutrient that was studied in the Coronary Drug Project.
In addition to niacin, there are other supplements that may help tame your cholesterol levels. For instance, Rita Elkins, M.H., author of Chinese Red Yeast Rice, suggest using Chinese red yeast rice because it contains monacolin, a substance regarded as a cholesterol-reducing agent.
Matthias Rath, M.D., author of Cellular Health Series: The Heart, tells readers about the benefits of vitamin C. Studies have shown that people who take a higher concentration of vitamin C daily have higher HDL blood levels. Rath also advises taking other supplements that work synergistically with vitamin C, such as vitamin B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, vitamin E, biotin, and folic acid.
One of the more recently discussed nutrients is policosanol. In her April 2005 article, "Policosanol," appearing in Better Nutrition, Kim Schoenhals states that it has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce platelet aggregation, and even combat obesity.
Stephen L. DeFelice, M.D., shares his supplement wisdom in his book The Carnitine Defense. He tells readers that carnitine is capable of preventing damage that leads to cardiovascular disease, helps alleviate current heart damage, and may reduce the risk of heart attack.
Soy protein can be very benificial, especially if used as a replacement for animal protein. According to DeFelice, Studies show that it not only lowers cholesterol levels, but also triglyceride levels. He says the effectiveness of soy protein may be directly related to the presence of isoflavones.
DeFelice also states that CoQ-10, taken as a supplement, has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol within four to 12 weeks. He writes that it may also lessen the incidence of arrhythmias and angina after heart attacks.
By practing any or all of these approaches, you can be making the first step in taking your heart health into your own hands. As William Parsons states, "This skill can allow a patient to avoid living the rest of his (or her) life as a heart attack survivor. Instead, he (or she) can enjoy life as one who has not had a heart attact."