You don’t need to shy away from fat if you have high choles­terol.

WHY LOW­ER­ING THIS OFTENMISUNDERSTOOD SUB­STANCE IS ONLY HALF THE STORY

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Lisa Turner

You’ve read plenty of ar­ti­cles on how to lower choles­terol. But that’s not the whole story. In­stead of fo­cus­ing only on how high or low your num­bers are, think about op­ti­miz­ing choles­terol.

Low-den­sity lipopro­teins (LDL) and high-den­sity lipopro­teins (HDL) are usu­ally clas­si­fied as “bad” (LDL) or “good” (HDL) choles­terol. But re­cent stud­ies have pointed out the im­por­tance of LDL par­ti­cle size. Re­search shows that peo­ple who have a higher quan­tity of small, dense LDL par­ti­cles and a lower quan­tity of large, fluffyLDLp ar­ti­cles have a three times greater risk of heart dis­ease. Small, dense LDL par­ti­cles are more likely to en­ter blood ves­sel walls, be­come ox­i­dized, and trig­ger the process of ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, which in­creases the risk of heart at­tack. Large, fluffyLDL par­ti­cles, on the other hand, may be pro­tec­tive against heart dis­ease.

Other stud­ies show an in­verse re­la­tion­ship be­tween triglyc­eride lev­els and LDL par­ti­cle size—higher triglyc­erides cor­re­late with small, dense LDL par­ti­cles, and lower triglyc­erides cor­re­late with large, fluffyLDLp ar­ti­cles. AnLDLp ar­ti­cle num­ber( c all edLD L-P) maybe more im­por­tant than the to­tal amount of choles­terol within these par­ti­cles. Th ink of cars on the high­way: the num­ber of cars on the road (LDL par­ti­cle con­cen­tra­tion) is more likely to cause a traf­fic jam than the num­ber of pas­sen­gers in the car (to­tal LDL choles­terol).

Th e bot­tom line? HDL and LDL lev­els, LDL par­ti­cle size and con­cen­tra­tion, and triglyc­eride lev­els are all im­por­tant fac­tors in your to­tal choles­terol pro­file. So in­stead of just low­er­ing your choles­terol, fo­cus on fix­ing it. Here’s how :£

SLIM DOWN

Even a few ex­tra pounds can con­trib­ute to heart dis­ease, and los­ing as lit­tle as fi ve per­cent of your body weight can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove your choles­terol pro­file. Stud­ies show that obese peo­ple tend to have a higher ra­tio of small, dense LDL par­ti­cles, low HDL lev­els, and high triglyc­erides, and los­ing weight can have a dra­mat­i­cally ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on choles­terol size and num­bers. In fact, one study found that weight loss was su­pe­rior to ex­er­cise in re­duc­ing small, dense LDL par­ti­cles.

Note that this isn’t an ex­cuse to avoid ex­er­cise. Stud­ies show that 9–10 miles of walk­ing or jog­ging per week re­sults in a 13 per­cent in­crease in HDL choles­terol lev­els and a 14–20 per­cent de­crease in LDL choles­terol lev­els. Other stud­ies show that even mod­er­ate ex­er­cise can in­crease LDL choles­terol sizes and re­duce the num­ber of small, dense par­ti­cles.

SLEEP WELL

Sleep­ing too much or too lit­tle can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on choles­terol. In one study, re­searchers found that sleep­ing fewer than

fi ve hours a night in­creased triglyc­erides and re­duced HDL lev­els in women; con­versely, women who slept more than eight hours showed sim­i­lar re­sults. Too lit­tle sleep can also lead to high LDL lev­els and make heart dis­ease more likely. Stud­ies have shown that peo­ple who sleep less than six hours a night sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease their risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

It is thought that the genes re­spon­si­ble for choles­terol trans­porta­tion are not as ac­tive in peo­ple who suf­fer from sleep de­pri­va­tion, and it is pos­si­ble that too much sleep may also im­pact those genes. Other stud­ies have linked sleep de­pri­va­tion with in­creased belly fat, which can also im­pact choles­terol lev­els. And fur­ther re­search sug­gests that im­prov­ing sleep qual­ity can re­duce the num­ber of small, dense LDL par­ti­cles.

EAT A HEARTHEALTHY DIET

Dozens of stud­ies have shown a link be­tween diet, healthy choles­terol lev­els, and heart dis­ease. Fo­cus on foods that have been shown to im­prove choles­terol and keep your ticker strong:

Healthy fats. Olive oil, nuts, and av­o­ca­dos are rich in mo­noun­sat­u­rated fats, linked with re­duced risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and im­proved lipid pro­files.

Fish. Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, sar­dines, tuna, and mack­erel have been shown to lower triglyc­erides, which is as­so­ci­ated with a de­crease in small, dense LDL par­ti­cles.

Fiber. Sol­u­ble fi ber in oats, oat bran, sweet pota­toes, beans, lentils, and vegeta­bles has been shown to lower to­tal LDL as well as re­duce the num­ber of small, dense LDL par­ti­cles.

Fruit. Ap­ples, grapes, straw­ber­ries, and citrus are high in pectin, a form of sol­u­ble fi ber that low­ers LDL lev­els.

KICK THE CARBS

A high-carb diet has been linked with el­e­vated triglyc­erides, which are as­so­ci­ated with an

in­crease in small, dense LDL par­ti­cles. In fact, stud­ies show that when the carb con­tent of the diet in­creases, fat in the diet goes down but the con­tent of fat (triglyc­erides) in the blood rises—a con­di­tion known as car­bo­hy­drate-in­duced hy­per­triglyc­eridemia, and one rea­son why a low-fat, high­carb diet does not pro­tect against heart dis­ease. A diet high in re­fined grains also leads to in­sulin re­sis­tance, in­flam­ma­tion, and meta­bolic syn­drome, also linked with in­creased triglyc­erides.

Th e so­lu­tion? Ban­ish re­fined sug­ars, sweets, and grains from your diet. Th is means avoid­ing candy, cook­ies, pas-

tries, fruit juice, white fl our, and al­co­hol—even a small amount can trig­ger el­e­vated triglyc­erides. Fo­cus in­stead on high- fi ber, nu­tri­ent-dense carbs such as sweet pota­toes, beans, win­ter squash, rutaba­gas, quinoa, and buck­wheat; stud­ies show fi ber low­ers both LDL and triglyc­erides.

SUP­PLE­MENT WITH STEROLS

Found nat­u­rally in a va­ri­ety of foods, plant sterols (phy­tos­terols) work by in­ter­fer­ing with the body’s ab­sorp­tion of di­etary choles­terol. Some stud­ies show that tak­ing 2 grams a day can lower LDL choles­terol by as much as 20 per­cent. Other

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