Lower Cholesterol With Food, Not Drugs

Do you or someone you love have high cholesterol? You are not alone. It is estimated that half of all adults in the United States have high total cholesterol and more than 25 percent have high LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol1  . I urge anyone who has been troubled by the news that their cholesterol is high to stop focusing on a number. Your cholesterol level is only one of many risk factors for heart disease. If you are truly concerned about cardiovascular disease, here’s what should be drawing your attention:

  • Achieving a normal body fat percentage
  • Achieving a normal blood pressure without the use of medication
  • Achieving a normal blood glucose without medication
  • Achieving a favorable cholesterol level without medication
  • Engage in aerobic exercise and strength training

The most dramatic protection from heart disease results from maintaining a normal weight, cholesterol and blood pressure with diet and exercise, so that you do not require medications. Medications cannot produce comparable results.

Your First Course of Action

Being well means removing risk factors for heart disease. Since diet is usually the cause of heart disease,2, 3 taking a drug will do little to stop the progression of the disease as long as a patient’s diet – the cause of the disease – remains the same..

If you have elevated cholesterol, dietary and lifestyle modifications should be your first course of action. For most people who commit to change their unhealthy habits, medication will prove unnecessary. Fuel your body with nutrients by eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and gradually increase your exercise tolerance.

In my medical practice, I have coached thousands of patients to successfully lower their cholesterol through a Nutritarian diet. People drop their blood pressure, lower their blood glucose, lower their weight and improve their exercise tolerance.

Dramatic Change with Diet, Not Pills

In a 2001 study, a high-fiber, high nutrient diet focusing on vegetables, fruit and nuts was found to reduce cholesterol by 33 percent within two weeks.4  A 2015 study surveying participants who followed the same nutrient-dense, plant rich diet reported an average 42 mg/dl decrease in LDL cholesterol in those with at least 80 percent adherence to that diet. In addition, those who started out obese lost an average of 50 pounds for the entire three year period. Those who started with hypertension reduced their systolic blood pressure by an average of 26 mm Hg Case studies accompanied this data, and documenting reversal of atherosclerosis and resolution of heart problems.5 Previous studies on similar diet and lifestyle changes have been shown to cause regression of atherosclerotic heart disease.6, 7 Living healthfully produces such dramatic changes because it doesn’t address just one risk factor; it makes your entire body healthier. It is for those who want real protection, without the side effects of drugs. 

Unlike taking a cholesterol lowering statin drug while continuing a disease-causing style of eating, a and lifestyle does more than address one or two heart disease risk factors. You don’t just lower your cholesterol, you become more resistant to diabetes and cancer, and improve your immune function.

Achieve Overall Protection

No medication can cover up a poor diet, and no single medication can significantly reduce multiple risk factors. Unlike drugs, the Nutritarian diet does significantly reduce multiple risk factors, including lowering body weight and blood pressure, reducing intravascular inflammation, and benefiting intravascular elasticity. A superior diet delivers benefits that protect overall, and almost immediately. For patients fighting cardiovascular disease, a diet of can offer many benefits in addition to cholesterol-lowering:

  • Lower blood pressure8-16
  • Lower intravascular inflammation17-21
  • Lower blood glucose and triglyceride levels22
  • Lower inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein
  • and white blood cell count23-30
  • Increased tissue antioxidant content31
  • Improved exercise tolerance and oxygen efficiency16
  • Larger LDL particle size (smaller particles are more heart disease-promoting) and and  lower particle number Prevents LDL from becoming oxidized, (a more damaging form of cholesterol)32-34

The Side Effects are  Side Benefits

Prescribing statins is counterproductive. Encouraging a patient to take a statin drug downplays the urgency needed for lifestyle and dietary changes. Changes that I know would drastically improve the health, life expectancy and quality of life of dangerously unhealthy individuals. I always say a prescription pad is like a permission slip. You can choose to remove the cause or treat the symptom; treating the symptom with drugs does not reverse heart disease and carries the risk of significant adverse effects. Almost all of my patients prefer a more effective approach, one that not only reduces cholesterol and restores the health of arteries but also reduces blood pressure and reverses heart disease much more effectively than any medication.

My new book, The End of Heart Disease (April 2016) explains the risk of drugs and medical procedures and details the most effective way to protect your heart and your life. 

 References:

  1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics--2014 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2014, 129:e28-e292.
  2. Yusuf S, Hawken S, Ounpuu S, et al. Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case-control study. Lancet 2004, 364:937-952.
  3. Akesson A, Larsson SC, Discacciati A, Wolk A. Low-risk diet and lifestyle habits in the primary prevention of myocardial infarction in men: a population-based prospective cohort study. J Am Coll Cardiol 2014, 64:1299-1306.
  4. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism 2001, 50:494-503.
  5. Fuhrman J, Singer M. Improved Cardiovascular Parameter With a Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Rich Diet-Style: A Patient Survey With Illustrative Cases. Am J Lifestyle Med 2015.
  6. Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet 1990, 336:129-133.
  7. Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, et al. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA 1998, 280:2001-2007.
  8. Pettersen BJ, Anousheh R, Fan J, et al. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure among white subjects: results from the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2). Public health nutrition 2012:1-8.
  9. Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL, 3rd. Bean consumption is associated with greater nutrient intake, reduced systolic blood pressure, lower body weight, and a smaller waist circumference in adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. J Am Coll Nutr 2008, 27:569-576.
  10. Streppel MT, Arends LR, van 't Veer P, et al. Dietary fiber and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Arch Intern Med 2005, 165:150-156.
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  12. Alonso A, de la Fuente C, Martin-Arnau AM, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption is inversely associated with blood pressure in a Mediterranean population with a high vegetable-fat intake: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Study. Br J Nutr 2004, 92:311-319.
  13. Utsugi MT, Ohkubo T, Kikuya M, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of hypertension determined by self measurement of blood pressure at home: the Ohasama study. Hypertens Res 2008, 31:1435-1443.
  14. Cassidy A, O'Reilly EJ, Kay C, et al. Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2011, 93:338-347.
  15. O'Neil CE, Keast DR, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni VL, 3rd. Nut Consumption Is Associated with Decreased Health Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Syndrome in U.S. Adults: NHANES 1999-2004. J Am Coll Nutr 2011, 30:502-510.
  16. Lidder S, Webb AJ. Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2013, 75:677-696.
  17. Macready AL, George TW, Chong MF, et al. Flavonoid-rich fruit and vegetables improve microvascular reactivity and inflammatory status in men at risk of cardiovascular disease--FLAVURS: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2014, 99:479-489.
  18. Martin KR. Both common and specialty mushrooms inhibit adhesion molecule expression and in vitro binding of monocytes to human aortic endothelial cells in a pro-inflammatory environment. Nutr J 2010, 9:29.
  19. Zakkar M, Van der Heiden K, Luong le A, et al. Activation of Nrf2 in endothelial cells protects arteries from exhibiting a proinflammatory state. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2009, 29:1851-1857.
  20. Lee WJ, Ou HC, Hsu WC, et al. Ellagic acid inhibits oxidized LDL-mediated LOX-1 expression, ROS generation, and inflammation in human endothelial cells. J Vasc Surg 2010, 52:1290-1300.
  21. Chen XL, Dodd G, Kunsch C. Sulforaphane inhibits TNF-alpha-induced activation of p38 MAP kinase and VCAM-1 and MCP-1 expression in endothelial cells. Inflamm Res 2009, 58:513-521.
  22. Dunaief DM, Fuhrman J, Dunaief JL, Ying G. Glycemic and cardiovascular parameters improved in type 2 diabetes with the high nutrient density (HND) diet. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 2012, 2.
  23. Floegel A, Chung SJ, von Ruesten A, et al. Antioxidant intake from diet and supplements and elevated serum C-reactive protein and plasma homocysteine concentrations in US adults: a cross-sectional study. Public Health Nutr 2011, 14:2055-2064.
  24. Brighenti F, Valtuena S, Pellegrini N, et al. Total antioxidant capacity of the diet is inversely and independently related to plasma concentration of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in adult Italian subjects. Br J Nutr 2005, 93:619-625.
  25. Esmaillzadeh A, Kimiagar M, Mehrabi Y, et al. Fruit and vegetable intakes, C-reactive protein, and the metabolic syndrome. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2006, 84:1489-1497.
  26. Zhu Y, Zhang Y, Ling W, et al. Fruit consumption is associated with lower carotid intima-media thickness and C-reactive protein levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Diet Assoc 2011, 111:1536-1542.
  27. Salas-Salvado J, Casas-Agustench P, Murphy MM, et al. The effect of nuts on inflammation. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008, 17 Suppl 1:333-336.
  28. Gonzalez R, Ballester I, Lopez-Posadas R, et al. Effects of flavonoids and other polyphenols on inflammation. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2011, 51:331-362.
  29. Margolis KL, Manson JE, Greenland P, et al. Leukocyte count as a predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality in postmenopausal women: the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. Arch Intern Med 2005, 165:500-508.
  30. Bloomer RJ, Kabir MM, Canale RE, et al. Effect of a 21 day Daniel Fast on metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women. Lipids Health Dis 2010, 9:94.
  31. Mayne ST, Cartmel B, Scarmo S, et al. Noninvasive assessment of dermal carotenoids as a biomarker of fruit and vegetable intake. Am J Clin Nutr 2010, 92:794-800.
  32. Lamarche B, Desroches S, Jenkins DJ, et al. Combined effects of a dietary portfolio of plant sterols, vegetable protein, viscous fibre and almonds on LDL particle size. Br J Nutr 2004, 92:657-663.
  33. Damasceno NR, Sala-Vila A, Cofan M, et al. Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts reduces waist circumference and shifts lipoprotein subfractions to a less atherogenic pattern in subjects at high cardiovascular risk. Atherosclerosis 2013, 230:347-353.
  34. Kaliora AC, Dedoussis GV, Schmidt H. Dietary antioxidants in preventing atherogenesis. Atherosclerosis 2006, 187:1-17.

 

2/3/2018 8:00:00 AM
Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a family physician, New York Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. Dr. Fuhrman is an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, and has appeared on hundreds of radio a...
View Full Profile Website: http://www.drfuhrman.com/

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