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Eating Whole Grains Improve Cholesterol with Statins

Combining statins with whole grains in the diet yields significant benefits.

One in four adults over 40 years old are taking a statin medication to improve their cholesterol levels. Tufts University researchers studied almost 4300 adults over 45 years old and found non-HDL levels significantly lower in statin users, but those who consumed more than 16 grams of whole grains per day were even lower. This held true with adjustments for demographics and lifestyle factors.

PositiveTip: Do not rely only on a statin. Consume a healthy diet with plenty of whole grains to maximize the benefit.

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Change is Blowing in the Wind for Dietary Guidelines

Dietary cholesterol may not be a nutrient of concern anymore.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (U.S.) is proposing to remove the limits on dietary cholesterol in the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This has been a mainstay since the 1960s. Evidence suggests that while serum cholesterol is still a risk factor, dietary cholesterol may not play as important a role as once thought. Read the most recent report of the Advisory Committee yourself.

PositiveTip: It is probably still wise to not overdo on high-fat, high-cholesterol foods!

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Lifestyle Matters!

Forty years of lifestyle changes in communities reduce morbidity and mortality.

A 40 year community-based effort in a rural Maine (U.S.) county to help residents control elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, stop smoking, eat healthfully, and exercise more appears to have yielded significant benefits. Compared with other counties in the same state, Franklin's residents have lower mortality rates and fewer hospitalizations resulting in savings of $5.4 million in hospital charges annually after adjusting for income.

PositiveTip: Simple, positive lifestyle changes yield big benefits over time!

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Statin Users May Exercise Less

Men using cholesterol controlling drugs may actually exercise less.

Thousands of people use statin medications to control their blood cholesterol levels, but their behavior may reduce the benefits. A recent study of 6000 men aged 65 and older found that after 7 years, statin users engaged in 40 minutes less of moderate exercise per week than non-statin users. Researchers think statin's side effects (muscle pain, fatigue & weakness) may be to blame.

PositiveTip: Stay active and maintain a healthy diet to aid or even avoid statin use later on.

Press Release. Journal Article.

Statins and Grace

Guilty eggs

Statins are an important class of medications for lowering blood cholesterol levels. Statins can help unblock arteries and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The first line of treatment for high cholesterol is dietary. Eating fewer dairy products, eggs, and red meat will often dramatically lower cholesterol levels. Statins can be added if diet alone doesn’t reduce blood cholesterol of normal levels.

A recent study showed that people needing statins for cholesterol do just the opposite of what is recommended. Researchers examined diet changes and statin use in 27,886 US adults, 20 years or older over a period of 10 years. 

New Guidelines for Old

Patient focus

Late in 2013 new guidelines were published for health care professionals to manage people at risk of cardiac or vascular (stroke) disease. The guidelines were written because the old guidelines did not 1) address the risk of stroke, 2) consider younger patients with risk factors but normal cholesterol numbers, and 3) make recommendations in the area of lifestyle and obesity concerns. The old guidelines focused on cholesterol numbers. The new guidelines focus on the patient.

The guidelines written by the American Academy of Cardiology and the American Heart Association address four specific areas:

Reversing Heart Disease - Is It Possible?

β€œMen will run to and fro and knowledge will increase.” Thirty years ago in medical school we were taught that one-half the knowledge we learned would turn out to be incorrect. No one knew which half. We would be required to continue learning and discover that for ourselves.

Thirty years ago we were taught that heart disease could not be reversed. Once the blood vessels of the heart were clogged, there was no way to reverse the damage. This bit of dogma turned out to be one of the parts that was wrong.

There are currently two publicly presented life style change programs that are designed to reverse coronary artery disease.

Diet that Lowers Cholesterol as Good as Medication

Diet is an important part of healthful living. There are foods that hurt your health and foods that improve your health. What you choose to eat is just as important as what you chose NOT to eat. This is particularly true for foods that help control your cholesterol levels. 

Saturated fats in the diet are harmful to your health as they raise bad cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Saturated fats are found in red meat, butter and other dairy products such as cheese, sour cream, whole milk, 2% milk, yogurt, and ice cream.

A study on the effects of diet on cholesterol was study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In this study, a group of 350 Canadians were randomly divided into three groups and prescribed special diets.

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Antioxidants in Walnuts Improve Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Antioxidants in walnuts improve the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Walnuts used to replace a third of the olive oil and avocado fat in a Mediterranean diet for four weeks was shown to improve blood cholesterol, LDL levels and vascular function in men and women with high cholesterol. Blood levels of one form of vitamin E doubled.  This study provides evidence that the antioxidants and the n-3 fatty acids in walnuts can improve the effect of the Mediterranean diet.

PositiveTip: Try adding a few walnuts to your salads or replacing a poor snack of junk food with a handful of walnuts to improve your heart health.

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Walnuts Reduce Cholesterol, Salmon Raises It

Walnuts & fatty fish influence different serum lipids in normal to mildly hyperlipidemic people.

Eating one and a half ounces of walnuts a day for a week lowered both total and LDL cholesterol by 5.4% and 9.3%, respectively. For every 1% drop in LDL cholesterol there is a 2% drop in coronary heart disease risk, so this translates to an 18.6% reduced risk of heart disease. 

In contrast, two 4-ounce servings a week of salmon raised HDL cholesterol about 4% and decreased triglycerides by 11%. However, for people with mild to moderately high cholesterol levels, salmon actually raised both the total and LDL cholesterol.

PositiveTip: Replacing servings of meat with 1.5 oz. of walnuts daily in cereal or added to salad can reduce your risk of heart disease.