Lowering Cholesterol: It's Easier Than You Think

By: Joe Keenan, M.D.
February 8, 2008 8:36:58 AM PST
Health savvy men and women know that heart disease is the Number 1 killer of Americans. Heart attack and stroke kill 929,000 American men and women every year ? more than all forms of cancer combined. Your doctor has no doubt tested your cholesterol levels and let you know your numbers. If not, get a cholesterol test now. It's a simple blood test that you can get through your doctor or a wide variety of health clinics. You're aiming for total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl or less and an LDL cholesterol of less than 130mg/dl (LDL should be less than 100mg/dl, if you have any history of diabetes or heart disease). You want your HDL to be 45 mg/dl or more, the higher the better. In addition to the individual numbers, most doctors look for a healthy ratio between your HDL number and your LDL cholesterol and your total cholesterol. A ratio of 3 to 1 LDL / HDL or 5 to 1 total cholesterol/HDL is generally considered a healthy goal. It's important to know your numbers and what they mean. However, it's even more important that you understand what you can do to keep your cholesterol levels where you want them. Diet and exercise are important. Limiting your intake of cholesterol-raising animal products and trans-fatty acids (vegetable oils that have been partially hydrogenated) and getting at least 30 minutes (latest recommendations are 90 min/day) of aerobic exercise daily will go a long way toward keeping your cholesterol levels where you want them and your heart healthy. But now there's an additional way to keep your arteries clear and your heart strong. You can just drink your juice, eat your cheese, cereal, granola bars and bread. The health industry has recently been revolutionized by a new generation of cholesterol-lowering foods called CoroWise Plant sterols that help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols, or phytosterols, are found in all plants. The best dietary sources of plant sterols are vegetables, seeds and nuts. Because plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol molecules, they are able to block the absorption of cholesterol from the gut into the blood stream. The plant sterols also block the reabsorption of the cholesterol in the bile from the liver. That is quite significant since the cholesterol in the bile is actually four to five times more than the cholesterol in your diet. This ends up lowering the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows products containing the appropriate amount of plant sterols to carry a heart healthy claim on their labels. The National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health also recommends plant sterols to lower cholesterol. If you've been told your cholesterol is high, science suggests you can reasonably expect to lower your cholesterol 8 to 15% in as little as two weeks with no side effects whatsoever. Even though all plants contain plant sterols, they are not in sufficient quantity in the typical American diet to have a significant impact on cholesterol levels. It is important to supplement your diet. One way to do this is to look for foods with a label that says "enriched with plant sterol" at your local grocery store. Just look for the CoroWise plant sterols heart healthy label. They can be found in orange juice, cheese, cereal, instant oatmeal, dairy substitutes, granola bars, bread, and will soon be in many more healthy foods. Eat two servings a day, which will give you a total of 0.8 grams of CoroWise plant sterol, and keep your diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and?voila!?your cholesterol may begin to drop. For more information regarding these unique plant sterols and foods that contain them, you can visit www.corowise.com. It's never too late to change your lifestyle and lengthen your life! About Dr. Joseph Keenan A Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Keenan holds a joint professorship in the University of Minnesota School of Food Science and Nutrition. His research interest is preventive cardiology with a special interest in the use of nutrition and nutritional supplements in the reduction of cardiovascular disease risk. Dr. Keenan has been awarded over $5 million in research grants and has published more than 50 scientific articles dealing with his research. He was awarded with the Outstanding Service Award, American Geriatrics Society 1995. He has presided over 150 papers and national and international scientific meetings. Dr. Keenan is considered one of the leading national experts in the field of nutritional supplement research and cardiovascular disease.