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NY Times Article about Cholesterol

One of our members sent a link to this New York Times article by Jane Brody. It’s a good read. Here’s the link A few highlights from the article:

  1. The goal for total cholesterol is 200 or less, preferably 180; less than 130 LDL, less than 100 if at high risk or already have heart disease
  2. People with "longevity syndrome," who live into their 90’s without evidence of heart disease, typically have very high levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
  3. Considered too low for HDL (associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease) – 40 milligrams for men and 50 for women
  4. There is considerable evidence linking an increased risk of heart disease and stroke more strongly to low HDL levels than to high LDL levels. An HDL level of 60 milligrams or higher helps protect against heart disease
  5. Drugs can increase HDL levels, but there are some risks if prescribed in certain combinations – combining statins with fibrates greatly increases the risk of muscle damage, a rare but potentially serious complication of statins. Statins with niacin-based medications may cause liver problems.
  6. Changes in lifestyle can help raise HDL levels safely: doing aerobic exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking, and making dietary changes.
  7. Receive significant increases in HDL when about 1,200 calories a week are expended on aerobic activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or lap swimming. For most people that means walking briskly for three miles four times a week. Duration of exercise, not intensity, confers the greatest benefit.
  8. Quitting all forms of tobacco can increase your HDL by 15 – 20 percent.
  9. A Medeterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and legumes, is strongly linked to high blood levels of HDL. So is eating more fish (and taking fish oil supplements) and consuming fewer refined carbohydrates. Also increase soluable fiber found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and oats. Monosaturated fats found in canola, olive, avadado, nut and seed oils; nuts and avacados can also improve HDL levels.
  10. A low-fat diet is not necessarily helpful. It may even lower HDL levels.
  11. Avoid trans fats found in many processed foods, especially snacks and packaged bakery items. Trans fats raise harmful LDL and lower beneficial HDL.

Read the full article here

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