Last year more people died from heart disease than all the cancers combined. It is the number one killer in North America and we need to take notice! Hyperlipidemia, defined as elevated triglycerides and/or cholesterol, is one of the primary precursors for heart disease. This condition is commonly diagnosed by practitioners and prescription drugs called "statins" like Crestor and Lipitor, are often prescribed. Like most medications however, these drugs come with potentially serious side effects. So before becoming reliant on the prescription pad consider some of these safe diet and lifestyle changes that have been proven to lower lipids.
Fruit and Vegetables
The cell membranes of plants contain sterols, which are almost structurally identical to cholesterol (derived strictly from animal products). Therefore by increasing fruit and vegetables in the diet and decreasing meat and dairy you can trick the body into believing its has enough cholesterol. This in turn, reduces cholesterol production by the liver.
Whole Rolled Oats
Whole rolled oats, not quick-cook oats, contain a fiber called beta glucan. When consumed, beta glucan latches onto cholesterol and draws it out in the stool. The research suggests a cumulative benefit between 3-10g of oat fiber/day. If your cholesterol is high, consider a supplement or, better yet, ½-1 cup of slow-cooked oats a day.
The American Heart Association recommends that all individuals with heart disease, hyperlipidemia included, should consume 0.9g/day of EPA and DHA combined. Both of these valuable omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil.
The rise in triglycerides after a meal is reduced by 30% following 2 hours of low-intensity exercise. Even more impressive, the results last up to 12 hours. Therefore one can extrapolate the benefits of a consistent, moderate-intensity exercise regime. So start your morning with a little exercise followed by a delicious bowl of oatmeal and don't forget your fruit and vegetables throughout the day too! Finally, supplement your diet with a little fish oil. If you make these changes each day to your routine, your next trip to the doctor will certainly be a positive one!
Written by: Jaclyn Smith, Naturopathic Doctor, Ottawa