How to manage high cholesterol and high blood pressure

According to the World Health Organization, more than one in three people worldwide suffer from high cholesterol. Medications such as statins can protect you from heart problems caused by high cholesterol levels. But the right diet and an appropriate exercise routine can also help improve cholesterol levels.

For a long time, the consumption of eggs was demonized because of their high cholesterol content. But not all cholesterol is alike. In medicine, we differentiate between healthy HDL cholesterol and unhealthy LDL cholesterol.ÊAnd eggs are bursting with healthy HDL cholesterol, which can even protect you from cardiovascular disease.

Find out what cholesterol does for your body and why LDL cholesterol can be so harmful to your health. We will explain how you can lower high cholesterol through diet and exercise during a statin therapy. In the same way that statins can improve your cholesterol levels, certain foods also make an important contribution to your heart health!

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a lipophilic substance produced in the liver. This blood fat stabilizes our cell membranes and helps with fat digestion. The body produces hormones such as estrogen, cortisol and vitamin D from cholesterol. We also consume cholesterol through our diet: The more cholesterol we consume, the less cholesterol the liver [1, 2].

What are HDL and LDL cholesterol?

Cholesterol does not flow freely through the body fluids, but is contained in two special proteins: HDL- and LDL-Proteins.While HDL proteins absorb cholesterol from the body cells and transport it to the liver, LDL proteins incorporate cholesterol into the cell membranes. High levels of LDL cholesterol cause health problems such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases[1].

Good to know: 75 percent of total cholesterol in the body is tied to LDL proteins[3].

Why is LDL cholesterol harmful?

The ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol is relevant for your health: The LDL portion should not be predominant! Think of both proteins as a package delivery service: LDL delivers the packages to the parcel station, the cell membranes. The HDL picks them up there and takes them to the parcel station, the liver. If LDL is predominant in the body, too many cholesterol packages are stored in the cell membranes: HDL proteins are not able to break down the excess cholesterol. The packages accumulate and adhere to the blood vessels, causing blood flow to stall. LDL cholesterol leads to calcificationof blood vessels over time, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Because blood flow is disrupted, vital nutrients cannot enter the body's cells[1, 4].

Elevated Cholesterol Levels - Causes

Elevated LDL and low HDL levels are detrimental to heart health. Both lifestyle and genetic predisposition can affect cholesterol levels[1, 4].

When are my cholesterol levels too high? - Which values are normal?

Lipid values

Normal range[5]

G Total cholesterol

= 5,0 mmol/l

LDL- cholesterol

< 2,59 mmol/l

HDL- cholesterol

> 0,9 mmol/l

LDL-HDL-ratio

< 3,0

Why are my cholesterol levels elevated?

High cholesterol levels can have a number of different causes. Cholesterol from food is probably not one of them - it has very little effect on blood cholesterol. This means that high cholesterol foods probably do not deserve their bad reputation. How do increased cholesterol levels occur if not through diet? On the one hand, our genetic predisposition influences how high our cholesterol levels are. Additional causes of high cholesterol are[1, 2]:

  • Gender and age - Older men have higher average LDL levels than young women
  • Menopause - LDL values increase during menopause
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Lack of exercise and obesity increase LDL and decrease HDL values
  • Diabetes, kidney, liver and thyroid disorders

Lower cholesterol levels

No other drug is prescribed as frequently worldwide as statins - the medication for treatment of high cholesterol. As soon as high cholesterol levels are detected, those affected can take additional measures to lower their levels in addition to statin therapy. A number of exercises and the right foods can help[6].

 Tips for high cholesterol

How can I lower my cholesterol naturally?

A 2017 study from the journalLipids in Health and Disease explains that aerobic exercise can help lower cholesterol in addition to statin therapy. Physical activity plays an important role in increasing HDL and reducing LDL cholesterol. Aerobic training includes sports such as running, cycling, swimming and Nordic walking[7, 8].

What foods should I eat and which should I abstain from if I suffer from high cholesterol?

To combat high cholesterol, avoid foods that increase LDL levels. In addition to the good foods listed below, you should make sure you have enough omega-3 fatty acids. These can have a supportive effect on statin therapy. You should also pay attention to a diet rich in fiber.Ê Dietary fibers can reduce LDL levels[1].

Foods that increase LDL levels

Lebensmittel, die LDL- senken und HDL-Werte erhšhen

Rapeseed oil, Coconut oil[9, 10]

Olive oil[11]

Chips, fried foods, bagged snacks[12]

Dark chocolate[13]

Sweets[14]

Eggs[15, 16]

Processed meats[17]

Psyllium seed husk[18]

Alcohol

Salmon[19]

Pasteurized dairy products[20]

Tumeric[21]

White flour products, white rice[22]

Green Tea[23]

Fats - But only healthy fat, please!
If your cholesterol levels skyrocket, you should reduce the amount of saturated fats in your diet. If you have high cholesterol levels, it is best to consume a maximum of 70 grams of fat per day. Make sure that at least half of the fat comes from olive oil, walnut oil, fish and eggs. As far as cheese and cured meats are concerned, you can reach for low-fat varieties. But be careful: low-fatproducts may contain a lot of sugar to give the food more flavor. You should therefore take a look at the nutrition information.

It is advisable to prepare meals with a low fat content, i.e. steam, braise or grill them. Although dietary cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol, you should not consume more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Researchers are not yet in complete agreement as to whether higher amounts might influence cholesterol levels[8, 24–26].

Foods

Cholesterin in Milligram per 100 Gramm

Butter

240

Liver Sausage

160

Eggs(size M)

115

Chicken breast

60

Gouda

59

Milk (3.5% fat)

13

Margarine

7

Olive oil

1

Egg whites

0

Dietary fibers - Your heart and intestines will thank you!

Fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals not only provide us with important vitamins, but also with fiber, which can have a positive influence on cholesterol levels.

Dietary fibers are found in the cell walls of plant foods and are an indigestible component of food. They keep us satisfied and help to eliminate toxins. Intestinal bacteria love fiber, which is why they make an important contribution to intestinal health. The German Nutrition Society recommends a minimum intake of 30 milligrams of dietary fiber per day. Dietary fiber can also reduce the risk of colon cancer. The dietary fiber pectin found in apples, oranges, pears and berries and beta-glucan from oats are used to lower cholesterol. Pectin stimulates the liver to produce important bile acid from the body's own cholesterol: LDL values decrease[8, 27, 28]!

Vegetable Sterols - How Nature Fights Cholesterol
Plant-based foods contain sterols andsterols, which are similar to cholesterol in animal foods. However, they have a different effect. Sterols prevent food cholesterol from entering the bloodstream. As a result, the body uses more of its own cholesterol, which lowers LDL levels. Sterols are abundant in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Margarine, dairy products and soy milk are now also enriched with sterols. However, you should not rely exclusively on these products to keep your cholesterol levels low. Sterols can interfere with the absorption of vitamins, so avoid taking too much of them[29].

The European Food Safety Agency recommends a maximum intake of 2.4 grams of plant sterols per day. As little as 100 grams of fruit can provide you with sufficient amounts of sterol.[1].

Niacin - A vitamin that improves HDL levels?
Like vitamin B12, niacin belongs to the group of B vitamins. Research has shown that niacin preparations can increase HDL cholesterol by up to 30 percent. However, intake should only take place after consultation with a doctor. According to theMayo-Clinic in California, niacin preparations only have a small effect in statin therapy[30].

In short: Exercise regularly, preferably aerobic exercises, if your cholesterol levels are elevated. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fish or linseed oil, dietary fiber from whole grain products and fruits and sterols from fruits can help you to lower your cholesterol levels!

Turmeric for high cholesterol

Cholesterol Test

A cholesterol test provides you with clarity about your cholesterol levels. This can be useful if you belong to one of the risk groups, such as an elderly man or a woman going through menopause, if you smoke or are overweight. A visit to your family doctor or a self-test from the Internet can measure your total cholesterol,, LDL and HDL levels. Additionally, triglyceride levels are often examined.ÊTriglycerides are fat molecules that are absorbed through your diet. Elevated triglyceride levels are associated with elevated cholesterol levels and a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. For a conclusive result, a cholesterol test should always be performed on an empty stomach. It is best if you have not eaten for twelve hours before collecting the blood sample [2].

The cerascreen¨ Cholesterol Test - Measure your cholesterol at home!h3>

The cerascreen¨ Cholesterol Test provides you with the option of measuring cholesterol and triglyceride levels within the comfort of your own home. A few drops of blood are collected from your fingertip. The sample will then be sent to our certified laboratory. After the evaluation you will receive a detailed result report with concrete recommendations for action.p>

Cholesterol: At a glance

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is produced in the liver and ingested through food. It serves as an initial substance for the formation of vitamin D, estrogen and cortisol. In the blood, cholesterol is bound to LDL and HDL proteins. LDL cholesterol is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. HDL cholesterol breaks down LDL cholesterol.

What are the risk factors for elevated cholesterol levels?

High cholesterol levels are dependent on sex, age, genetic predisposition, alcohol and nicotine consumption as well as existing diseases such as diabetes.

How are elevated cholesterol levels treated?

Doctors prescribe statins that are proven to effectively lower cholesterol levels. In addition, a proper diet with cardio exercises such as running may help. Eating fiber-rich foods and healthy fats from salmon, walnuts and olive oil can help optimize your LDL and HDL levels.

Sources

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