The Baby Boomer Heart: Cholesterol Rising
People between ages 45-60 years are at risk for high cholesterol. High cholesterol can build up even in trim, active people.
Controlling Cholesterol: What to Do continued...
According to registered dietician Samantha Heller, MS, RD, the first foods
to cut are the ones high in saturated fat.
"These are fats that come from animal products, like beef, lamb, and
pork, as well as high-fat dairy products such as butter, ice cream, high-fat
yogurt or whole milk," says Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist with the
Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Center at New York University's Rusk
Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine.
Equally important, replace tropical oils in your diet such as palm, corn,
and coconut oils with heart-healthy oils such as olive, canola, or grape seed
"This allows you to shift the fat content, which lowers LDL and raises
HDL," says Underberg. He also suggests increasing soluble fiber, up to 25
grams a day, and adding soy-rich foods such as tofu and soy milk to lower
To increase HDL he recommends omega-3 fatty acids -- the good fats found in
flax seed oil, walnuts, almonds, and fish such as salmon.
Heller suggests avoiding foods that raise triglycerides, such as simple
carbohydrates like white bread, cakes, cookies, and pies, as well as french
fries and donuts.
Most people make cholesterol out of animal fat, not from cholesterol-rich
foods such as eggs or shrimp. But some people are more genetically programmed
to make bad LDL cholesterol out of those cholesterol-rich foods. So Heller says
it's wise for everyone with high cholesterol to keep these foods to a
In addition, the American Heart Association says adding the following foods
to your diet can also help lower your cholesterol:
- 5 servings or more of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
- 6 or more servings per day of whole-grain, high-fiber products, including
whole-wheat breads and cereals, oatmeal, and brown rice.
- Protein consisting of skinless poultry, very lean meats, fish and legumes
- Fat-free and low-fat dairy products.
Plants That Help Lower Cholesterol
In addition to dietary measures, many doctors now recommend the use of
"natural plant sterols" to help raise HDL.
They work by competing with human cholesterol, keeping it from getting into
our blood vessels where clots can form, says Underberg. Instead, LDL is
shuttled off to your liver where it's metabolized and eliminated. Results can
be seen in about three weeks.
Cholesterol-lowering margarines containing plant sterols and stanols include
Benecol and Take Control.
When Cholesterol Medications Are the Answer
Try as you might, even if you do everything right, your cholesterol may
stubbornly remain high. When this is the case, doctors say cholesterol-lowering
medications are in order.
Currently, there are five such classes of drugs, nearly all focused on
reducing LDL. By far, however, the most frequently prescribed are drugs known
"These work to slow the body's production of cholesterol and increase
the liver's ability to remove LDL from your bloodstream," says Krumholz.
They can also reduce triglyceride levels, he says, and can offer a modest
increase in HDL.