Natural Gourmet Institute’s President, Jenny Matthau, is our resident expert and lecturer on issues relating to heart disease, healthy and harmful fats, and dietary approaches to achieve heart health.
People continue to ask me the best way to lower cholesterol with diet and lifestyle to lower their risk of heart disease. I tell them the issue is not as simple as it appears to be. The following are my recommendations for cholesterol “management” . . .
There is mounting evidence that raising HDL cholesterol is more important than lowering LDL cholesterol, particularly in women. To raise HDL: most effective is aerobic exercise. For maximum benefits, burn at least 1200 calories weekly.
With respect to diet:
Consume . . .
- Moderate alcohol (one drink for women, one to two drinks daily for men)
- Coconut products
- Omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fatty fish, meat, milk and eggs from grass-fed animals, flax, chia, hemp and algae
- Saturated fats from healthy animals (organically raised and grass-fed)
- Soluble fiber found in oats, barley, legumes, carrots, apples, pears, citrus, berries, flax seeds
- Raw onion
- Green tea.
Avoid . . .
- Trans fats (they lower HDL and raise LDL and the more atherogenic LPA)
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates (they raise triglycerides, which are inversely related to HDL)
- Excessive omega-6 fatty acids found most abundantly in these oils: grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, corn and soy
- Commercially-raised animal foods.
While LDL cholesterol is a “risk factor” for young and middle-aged men, it is not for women, or for people aged 70 or older regardless of gender. Note that the term “risk factor” does not connote causality, only a positive association.
Lowering cholesterol, without addressing the inflammatory causes of heart disease does not result in lower mortality rates. That being said, to lower LDL:
Avoid foods rich in . . .
- Saturated fats (they tend to raise LDL)
- Concentrated sugars (they raise triglycerides, which can cause the liver to produce very small, dense particle LDL, the most dangerous kind).
Consume . . .
- Whole grains
- Foods rich in monounsaturated fats (olives, avocados, nuts, particularly macadamias)
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.