Alternative to Statins: Lowering Cholesterol with Healthy Foods

Alternative to Statins: Lowering Cholesterol with Healthy Foods
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About Statins

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Statins

People with high cholesterol are well aware of the use of statins. They depend on these medications to keep their cholesterol levels under control and away from reaching dangerous levels. Statins are a type of medication that is prescribed for people that battle high cholesterol. These medications block some of the chemicals that are produced in the liver, and lead to high blood cholesterol levels. People who suffer from cholesterol problems are at a high risk for developing cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a heart attack and stroke. Although these types of medications work for many, they do have a risk for side effects which, leave some wondering if there are alternative to statins for lowering cholesterol such as a simple change of diet? In many cases, this answer is yes. While there are different foods you can eat that will help to keep your cholesterol under control, a doctor should be consulted before beginning a new treatment or before discontinuing any prescribed medications.

Side effects

As with any medications, there are some risks of side effects. People who take statins may experience headache, abdominal pain, a tingling feeling of the skin, diarrhea, bloating and rash. In more severe cases, patients may experience muscle inflammation, liver failure, skeletal muscle damage and myopathy that can lead to death.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is full of heart healthy benefits and the food and drug administration recommends using 2 tablespoons of olive oil every day in place of other forms of fats in your diet. Olive oil contains anti-oxidants that help to lower your bad cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, while leaving your good cholesterol levels, or HDL cholesterol, as they should be.

There are different types of olive oils to choose from such as pure, light and extra-virgin olive oil. While all forms of olive oil are beneficial, extra-virgin olive oil is the best choice for lowering cholesterol since the oil has been processed less than other variations. While this oil is a good choice for someone watching his or her cholesterol, you want to be careful that you do not exceed the recommended level for consumption or you can counteract the reason for adding olive oil to your diet in the first place.

Other than adding olive oil to your diet, you want to stay away from foods that are high in saturated and trans fats. These types of fats should be avoided at all cost as they raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) while lowering your good cholesterol (HDL). Naturally, foods that are also high in fat and have high cholesterol levels should not be consumed.

Oats, Grains, and Fiber

Staring your morning off with a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grain and fiber rich cereals is a great way to tackle high cholesterol. These types of foods contain soluble fiber that will help to lower your bad cholesterol and keep it stable once it reaches a normal and healthy level.

Using these foods as a snack or meal replacement later on in the day will not only help to lower your cholesterol, but will also help to cut down on your waist size as well.

Fish

Many types of meat, such as red meat are high in cholesterol. If your bad cholesterol is high but you are not ready to change to a vegetarian diet, replacing your meat with fish could be a good option for you. Different types of fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, trout, and albacore tuna are all known to have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to people with high cholesterol since they have been proven to aid in cardiovascular health, and help to lower blood pressure.

Bake or grill your fish to get the most out of their nutritional value. A light coating of olive oil will make your fish taste great, while adding a little extra cholesterol lowering help. If you choose to keep meat in your diet, very lean cuts of meat and boneless skinless chicken breast are both good choices.

Beans and Vegetables

Dried beans, peas, and other types of lentils are all a great choice for lowering high cholesterol. Fresh vegetables that you can find in season are also helpful food choices for this special diet. Beans and vegetables are all packed with soluble fiber (not to mention vitamins and minerals) and this makes them a good food choice when going on a low-cholesterol diet.

Nuts

Certain nuts such as walnuts and almonds are full of polyunsaturated fats, which helps keep blood vessels healthy while keeping your cholesterol levels at normal levels. Choose varieties that are unsalted and as natural as possible. As with all snacking foods, eat sparingly. It is never good to overindulge, even when the foods are good for you.

References

Mayo Clinic: High Cholesterol; https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol/CL00002

All About Lowering Cholesterol; https://www.all-about-lowering-cholesterol.com/foods-that-lower-cholesterol.html

Medical News Today; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8274.php

Image: Salmon by Steven Zolneczko under CC BY-SA 2.0