High Cholesterol – Lifestyle Changes

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It is well established that being overweight, lack of exercise and a diet that is high in saturated fats contributes to the development of high cholesterol. In any personalized health strategy, establishing a healthy weight, healthy diet and exercise are the foundations of a good strategy, no matter how old you are!

The following TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) document provides excellent information on the changes you can make to help control Cholesterol levels: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf


Patient QI found several new studies on exercise and high cholesterol. A study published in November 2013 showed that in groups of sedentary patients with coronary artery disease, 30 mins of walking lowered total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and improved high-density lipoprotein cholesterol as well as inflammatory markers. Patients in the evening walking group gained more benefits than those walking in the morning.

As technology improves people are becoming more and more sedentary. A study published in Oct 2013 investigated the association between non-exercise physical activity and cardiovascular health in the elderly population of Sweden.  The study included 4,232 people and they were assessed for 12.5 years.  Results showed that people who had a high level of non-exercise physical activity (regardless of whether they did exercise or not) had better waist measurements and better HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition the group of high level of non-exercise physical activity had a lower risk of cardiovascular events. The conclusion is that keeping active regardless of regular exercise is good for cardiovascular health.

Patient QI found an interesting article published in Oct 2013 by a Japanese School of Medicine. Although statins can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to high levels of LDL-cholesterol they are still at risk from low HDL cholesterol levels. The article explains that therapies that aim to raise HDL-C levels should be a priority for study but that physical activity and exercise training raise HDL-C levels by multiple mechanisms and therefore lifestyle modifications including exercise should be the first option of treatment.


The most recent study that Patient QI found on the effects of diet and exercise in lowering cholesterol was carried out in 2012-2013 and was published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. The study measured weight and lipid profiles for patients after a 21 day program as follows:  (1) unlimited fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits and preferably twice as many vegetables as fruits, (2) ½ to 1 cup of cooked lentils or brown rice each day, (3) 4 to 7 teaspoons of cold pressed oils per day, and (4) at least 64 oz of water a day. After day 10 of the program, participants were allowed to consume 1 to 2 servings of baked, broiled, or braised poultry or fish per day. Participants consumed a whey protein-based shake as meal replacement 2 times per day. Nutritional supplementation included a cleanse product on days 1 to 7, soluble fiber supplementation including oat bran concentrate and apple pectin on all days, and "green food" supplementation on days 8 to 21.

Results showed weight loss of an average of 5.3 kg and total cholesterol decreases of between 11 and 77mg/dl with LDL reduction of between 7 and 67 mg/dl. 

Changes in diet are clearly at the heart of the matter.

These are the essentials to know:

Low cholesterol foods:

Whole grains
Oat bran
Black beans
Grape juice
Cranberry Juice

High cholesterol foods:

Fatty meats
Ice Cream
Fast food meals
Whole Milk
Egg yolks
Chicken Skin
Fried Food. 

The American Heart Association has a good article on cooking for low cholesterol: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Cooking-for-Lower-Cholesterol_UCM_305630_Article.jsp

The following websites have some excellent low cholesterol recipes: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/low_cholesterol_dinner_recipes?slide=1#leaderboardad



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