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To Lower Cholesterol and Promote Heart Health, Try Eating More Fat

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Q. I am so confused. I am a vegetarian with high cholesterol. My glucose is climbing and may put me at risk for diabetes.

I decided to change my diet after reading that a vegan diet with no fat is the best way to lower cholesterol. I have dropped weight since going on a vegan diet, but I really miss avocados.

Help! I see my doctor next week and really want to avoid cholesterol-lowering medication.

A. There is growing evidence that the war on fat was misguided. One of the best studies to date compared a Mediterranean-type diet with added olive oil (at least 4 tablespoons daily) or nuts (a large handful daily) to a low-fat "prudent" diet. People consuming extra fat from olive oil or nuts had fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular causes (New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2013).

Not only did the Mediterranean diet with extra monounsaturated fats reduce heart risk, it also lowered the likelihood of developing diabetes (Annals of Internal Medicine, Jan. 7, 2014). There are more specifics about the Mediterranean diet and cholesterol-lowering foods in our book The People's Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies (published by National Geographic). Because avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, there is no reason to deprive yourself.

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9 Comments

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Her high cholesterol and increasing glucose leads me to guess too much fructose. It's somewhat common in veg diets. Maybe try radically reducing fructose and see if that helps?

I had a similar issue. Although I would conscientiously watch what I ate, each annual physical examination was wrought with anxiety as I worried that my cholesterol would not change from the 230-250 range. Doctors lusted to put me on statin drugs, which I always resisted as I know they are not a good choice. Finally I went to an endocrinologist who did a thorough blood analysis and found that I have Hashimoto's Disease (hypothyroidism). After 6 weeks of titrating with Armour medication (NOT Synthroid), my cholesterol was perfect -- actually went down to 165! I would strongly urge you to have your thyroid checked. It is a simple blood test and could make all the difference in your numbers -- and more importantly, your health!

I am glad you put this information here, because I got confused when a newsletter I received said that omega 6 (oils) do not help to prevent heart attacks. I imagine olive oil is not included in this group of omega 6. There is something 'nutrients' in olive oil that does help the heart, I think.

Thank you for this. I am wondering how and if coconut oil fits into this.
4 Tablespoons Olive oil, wow--that seems to be a lot.

I am a senior Texan and do not eat red meat. Love my salmon, tuna, chicken, turkey, eggs, brown rice, veggies, cheese, milk and especially my AVOCADOS/GUACAMOLE...OLE'

Grass fed grain free dairy & meat, raw dairy in particular, is also excellent for all inflammation based disease. See Weston a. Price foundation for decades of research.

I lowered my cholesterol by following the diet in Harriet Roth's Cholesterol Control Cookbook. It has a lot of oat bran in cereal or muffins which I made every week and very little meat and dairy. Unfortunately, I got tired of making the muffins and my cholesterol rose after that. I've started a statin because my cardiologist said my lipoprotein A is high and I cannot control that with diet. But Roth's approach does work!

What, specifically, is a "thorough blood test?" I have had blood tests coming out the gazoo! I found that I had a condition misdiagnosed and treated based on the misdiagnosis. This misguided treatment destroyed my thyroid gland. I have been on Synthroid for years. Generally, my thyroid, as measured on "complete blood pannels," shows that my thyroid is in the "normal" range.

Yet my cholesterol is so high my doctor(s) are chomping at the bit to put me on statin drugs. The alternative drugs would cost me over $40/month on Medicare Part D - out of the question financially.

So, again, what blood test and/or what professional specialty do I need to determine if there is a simple fix that I can afford?

I am not sure, but there are some 'home remedies' and changing diet that can help to lower cholesterol (which is probably high because the medications you are taking.) If I were you, depending where you live, I go to one of the best hospitals in the US that is near you. They have specialist that can check what you have and normally they take people with any kind of insurance. Check on that. Go to an specialist who knows or at least you can try…

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