5 Ways to Improve Your Cholesterol Ratio
By Hurricane Family Pharmacy
When most people hear the word cholesterol, they think of negative things like heart disease or giving up good foods like eggs and meat. However, cholesterol is a good thing. In fact, we cannot live without it! Like most everything in life though, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing.
Our bodies produce most of our cholesterol naturally. Only about 20% of our cholesterol comes from our diet. That is why giving up eggs or meat only reduces a cholesterol level by a few points. Cholesterol plays several key roles in a healthy, functional body, When combined with Vitamin D, it produces essential hormones like estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone. Our brain needs cholesterol to function properly, as does our immune system. It keeps cell membranes from falling apart and plays an integral role in cellular repair.
Most of us have heard about 2 types of cholesterol: LDL (bad) and HDL (good). When we hear that we have “high cholesterol,” we tend to focus on lowering the LDL cholesterol. This is often done with prescription medicines referred to as statins. Statins include simvistatin, resuvastatin, atorvastatin, etc. While statins do lower LDL, this isn’t necessarily the only goal we should be looking at. The ratio of our good cholesterol (HDL) to total cholesterol is a very important number. In fact, when we get this ratio below 3.5, our chances of a stroke or heart attack are drastically reduced. If we want to decrease our ratio, we can increase our good cholesterol and/or decrease our bad cholesterol. There are 5 natural ways each of us can do this:
- Several studies have shown that lifestyle changes, such as switching to the Mediterranean diet and eating more fish, brought greater declines in heart attacks than statins.
- Most of us don’t eat fish twice a day, so we need a good quality omega-3 supplement. Taking an omega-3 supplement will increase HDL, but beware. Most of the brands on the market are poor quality. An easy way to check the quality of your omega-3 is to put the capsules in the freezer for a few hours. If they remain clear, they are good. If they get cloudy, toss them out. They could be doing more harm than good.
- Olive oil has been around forever. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and coconut oil are good fats that will increase your HDL. Other good fats are avocados and certain nuts like macadamias and walnuts.
- Exercising 30 minutes more than you are currently doing, 5 days a week, will help increase your HDL. It has many other health benefits, such as increasing energy levels, memory function, brain health, and feelings of happiness.
- Soluble fiber will help lower your LDL. There are many choices. Although foods high in fiber are best, most of us don’t eat nearly enough. My recommendation is the fiber found in Metamucil. It is simple to take each day, and it has other benefits.
Our pharmacists and technicians are very knowledgeable and would love to talk to you about these and other healthy choices. You can reach us at 635-8200.