Alzheimer’s tied to cholesterol, abnormal nerve insulation | National Institute on Aging – National Institute on Aging

From NIH Research Matters

The protein apolipoprotein E (APOE) plays a key role throughout the body. It helps to transport cholesterol and other fatty molecules, or lipids. The gene that produces APOE comes in a few different varieties. The most common is called APOE3.

Fatty myelin sheaths surrounding neurons with astrocytes, and microglia.

The most notorious is APOE4, which has long been linked to an increased risk of dementia in Alzheimer’s disease. People who inherit one copy of the APOE4 gene have up to a fourfold greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia. Inheriting two copies of APOE4 elevates the risk up to 12-fold. But despite years of study, scientists have little understanding of how APOE4 affects the human brain and boosts dementia risk.

Earlier research by Dr. Li-Huei Tsai of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others found that APOE4 might raise Alzheimer’s risk by altering lipid metabolism in certain brain cells. But the underlying details of the process remained unclear.

To build on these findings, the team conducted a multipronged study that assessed gene activity of all major cell types in postmortem human brain tissue from 32 men and women who had one, two, or no copies of the APOE4 gene. Results were published in Nature on Nov. 16, 2022.

The researchers found that APOE4 affected gene expression across all measured cell types. The team then took a closer look at genes related to cholesterol and other lipids. Cholesterol-manufacturing genes were overly expressed, and cholesterol-transporting genes dysregulated, in brain cells called oligodendrocytes with the APOE4 gene. Oligodendrocytes are found in the brain and spinal cord. They make and maintain a fatty substance called myelin that surrounds and insulates long nerve fibers. The abnormalities were more extreme in oligodendrocytes with two copies of APOE4 rather than one.

To better understand how APOE4 affects oligodendrocytes, the scientists created laboratory cultures of the cells with and without the APOE4 gene. Oligodendrocytes with APOE4 tended to accumulate abnormal amounts of cholesterol within their cells, rather than using it to make healthy myelin sheaths around nerve fibers. When the scientists examined postmortem human brains, they noted that myelin sheaths tended to be fewer and thinner in brains that carried the APOE4 gene.

The scientists next used model systems to test whether APOE4-related abnormalities might be reversed via drugs that affect cholesterol processing. They found that a drug called cyclodextrin, which promotes cholesterol transport, reduced cholesterol buildup and improved myelin sheath formation in cultured oligodendrocytes. It did the same in mice with two copies of APOE4. The mice also performed slightly better in learning and memory tasks after treatment with the drug.

These findings open new avenues for exploring the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s dementia and for designing potential therapeutics.

“It’s encouraging that we’ve seen a way to rescue oligodendrocyte function and myelination in lab and mouse models,” Tsai says. “I feel that lipid dysregulation could be very fundamental biology underlying a lot of the pathology we observe.”

by Vicki Contie

This research was supported in part by NIA grants RF1-AG062377, RF1-AG054012-01, RF1-AG0540124, and R01-AG058002.

Reference: Blanchard JW, et al. APOE4 impairs myelination via cholesterol dysregulation in oligodendrocytes. Nature. 2022. Epub Nov. 16. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05439-w.

How Gene Editing Could Help Solve the Problem of Poor Cholesterol – TIME

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. Though it’s held the top spot for decades, it wasn’t always the king of mortal maladies. Its ascension was propelled by two of medical science’s greatest successes.

“Before the 20th century, heart disease was an uncommon cause of death,” says Dr. Michael Shapiro, a professor of cardiology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis and dysentery, as well as smallpox and other contagious viruses, were common killers. “Antibiotics and vaccines changed everything.”

Some experts believe that gene editing using CRISPR technologies could be medical science’s next big breakthrough—an advancement that allows the human race to smash through the longevity ceiling imposed by heart disease, and maybe also other common killers. One day, hopefully, “CRISPR technology could be used to treat many conditions, for example neurological disease, cancers, and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Qiaobing Xu, a gene-editing researcher and professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts University.

Perhaps the most tantalizing of these applications involves lowering cholesterol, specifically the “bad” kind: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. “While cholesterol is an essential molecule for myriad biological processes, if blood levels of LDL cholesterol get too high, the cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of the arteries, forming congestive deposits known as plaques,” Shapiro says. These plaques directly cause or contribute to many forms of cardiovascular disease. “Managing cholesterol is a huge part of my job as a cardiologist focused on prevention.”

While a poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, and other lifestyle factors can lead to cholesterol problems, genetic factors also play a role. Some genes that regulate blood levels of LDL cholesterol appear to be good targets for CRISPR gene-editing technologies. Already, research in non-human primates has found that editing cholesterol genes appears to be both safe and effective for the mitigation of cardiovascular disease. And, earlier this year, the first human underwent gene editing for the treatment of high cholesterol.

The science underlying CRISPR and gene editing for LDL cholesterol is rapidly advancing. However, some major hurdles remain, and experts warn of the potential for unanticipated risks.

The science of gene editing for cholesterol

CRISPR is an acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. These are segments of DNA found in some types of bacteria. These segments act like storage containers for snippets of genetic material cut from defeated viral pathogens. The bacteria store these snippets in order to enhance their innate immunity from future threats.

During the past decade, researchers have figured out how to harness these CRISPR-related biological processes to edit the genetic material of living organisms, including people. “Gene editing involves two pieces,” Xu says. There’s an endonuclease—an enzyme—that performs the genetic alteration, and there’s also a guide RNA that ensures the endonuclease is only working on the desired part of the genome. “You put those two pieces together, and you can modify the genome,” he says.

Sometimes a third piece is necessary: As Xu says, some forms of gene editing are done ex vivo, or outside the body. The relevant cells are removed and genetically modified in a lab. They’re then put back into the same person so that they can multiply and displace the old unedited cell type. This ex vivo process can be used to change the genetic material of blood cells, for example, and has been utilized to treat conditions such as sickle cell disease.

But a second, more complex method of gene editing involves in vivo alterations to a person’s genetic material. This is necessary when the relevant material cannot be removed—for example, when it’s housed in an organ. In these instances, a delivery vehicle is needed to safely carry the injected CRISPR technology to the correct location inside the human body. Xu was part of a team that published groundbreaking research in 2021 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That research identified a specific type of lipid nanoparticle that could carry CRISPR gene-editing material specifically to the liver, which is the site of the modifications needed to address cholesterol problems.

The ability to edit genetic material is only useful if you’ve identified DNA sequences or mutations that directly contribute to the development of health problems. In the case of LDL cholesterol, researchers believe they’ve identified two such targets. The discovery of those involved nifty deductions that would make Sherlock Holmes proud.

“About 20 years ago, there was a research group in France that was studying a number of French families that had a relatively common inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH,” Shapiro says. People with FH have unusually high levels of LDL cholesterol from birth and, as a consequence, are at high risk for premature cardiovascular disease. However, the French kindred did not have any mutations in the known FH genes. The French researchers, working with another team in Montreal, Canada, identified a specific problem mutation in this kindred. The mutation causes a protein known as PCSK9 to bind to receptors that would normally help remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. “The vast majority of the time, mutations make a protein that a gene encodes for less effective, and this is called a loss-of-function mutation,” he says. “But in this French kindred, it turned out that the PCSK9 gene mutation was a gain-of-function mutation.”

Because such mutations are uncommon, researchers who looked at this work theorized that some people might be born with its opposite—that is, a loss-of-function mutation on the PCSK9 gene. Theoretically, such a mutation would lower levels of blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. “They looked for this in large populations, and sure enough, they found a naturally occurring loss-of-function mutation that reduces LDL cholesterol and makes people almost immune to atherosclerosis,” Shapiro says.

The discovery of the PCSK9 gene and the protein’s role in hypercholesterolemia led to the development of PCSK9 inhibitors, a class of cholesterol drugs designed to limit PCSK9 activity. But this discovery also provided a perfect target for CRISPR gene-editing therapies. Here was a mutation that occurs naturally, and that lowers LDL cholesterol. Just as importantly, the mutation wasn’t associated with any known health problems. All of this suggests that using CRISPR technologies to make such a modification could be both safe and effective. “Researchers saw all this with the PCSK9 gene and started saying yes, CRISPR therapy makes sense,” he says.

Researchers, including Xu, have since identified a second gene—Angptl3—that plays an important role in regulating blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. “If we can knock down both of those two proteins—PCSK9 and Angptl3—that should lead to lower lipid and cholesterol levels in plasma, and that can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Xu says.

Read More: How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Potential pitfalls

Thus far, the research on CRISPR and its cholesterol-lowering genetic targets has been nothing short of revolutionary. Most observers applaud the science and express enthusiasm about its possibilities. But most also temper their enthusiasm with realism—and some concerns.

“One of the big challenges is going to be proving safety and specificity in humans,” says Dr. Christie Ballantyne, chief of cardiology and cardiovascular research at Baylor College of Medicine. “You’re talking about making a permanent change to someone’s DNA, and there are concerns that any negative effects may take a long time to show up.”

The initial clinical trials (including those already planned or in progress) will include people with serious inherited cholesterol disorders—cases where the pros and cons clearly favor gene-editing therapy. However, the big hope is that this treatment could eventually be performed as a preventive measure—before someone has lived for years or decades with elevated levels of cholesterol. That means going inside a relatively healthy person and performing fine-tuned work on very specific parts of their DNA. In essence, it’s like putting out a small fire that is likely to spread—but hasn’t spread yet. And any time you play with fire, someone may get burned. “You need to specifically silence some genes and not others, which is not easy,” Xu says. “Caution is needed, and the concerns people have are valid.”

Even if all the promising research pans out and the therapy works, there are reasons to question how broadly it will be embraced.

“We already have some monoclonal antibody therapies that target PCSK9 that are very effective,” Ballantyne says. Statins, which for years have been the go-to treatment for people with moderate or severe cholesterol problems, have also proven to be both safe and effective. They’re also cheap. (Shapiro advocates for their wider deployment. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there on statins,” he says. “While they can cause nuisance side-effects like muscle aches and pain in a minority of patients, they’re one of the most scrutinized drugs, and they’ve turned out to be extremely safe.”)

“Let’s say you’re 40, your cholesterol is really high, and your choice is between a statin that’s supported by studies with hundreds of thousands of users, or gene editing, which will permanently change something in your liver,” Ballantyne says. “I think most people are going to pick the statin.”

On the other hand, one of the biggest issues with the cholesterol drugs we have today is that, even though they work, some people won’t take them. “I can’t even get some people who have had a heart attack to stay on statins,” Shapiro says. “About 50% of users stop taking them within a year, and after five years, only about 5% of users are still on them.”

The issue of poor medication adherence is a common and intractable one throughout the field of medicine. There’s reason to believe that if people were convinced of its safety, a one-time gene-editing treatment would be very appealing when compared to taking a daily pill for the rest of their lives.

Read More: What to Know About High Cholesterol in Kids

Why CRISPR is not going anywhere

Almost across the board, experts say that gene-editing therapy is likely here to stay. “It’s great science, and I think the technology is going to happen,” Ballantyne says.

He recalls that, when he was in medical school, monoclonal antibody therapy was the hot new thing. Back then it had plenty of naysayers, but they were silenced long ago. “It took a couple decades and there were problems along the way, but now it’s everywhere.” He thinks gene editing is likely to follow a similar path.

However, Ballantyne says that cholesterol may prove more resistant to CRISPR-based treatments than some other medical conditions. “If someone has a lethal genetic disease with no treatment, that’s a more straightforward risk-benefit calculation,” he says. “With cholesterol, I think that might not be such an easy shot on goal.”

More Must-Reads From TIME


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Cholesterol Clarity – Nutrition Diva’s Greatest Tips – Quick and Dirty Tips

A History of Science-Based Tips

Over the last many years, the Nutrition Diva podcast has discussed the effect of cholesterol on overall health many times. Today, we bring you some of the most impactful, data-based and diva-delivered information on the subject. We’ll touch on foods like coconut oil, oats, and eggs before wrapping things up with a lesson on how to raise your good cholesterol.

We kick things off with the Nutrition Diva discussing the impact – if any – that coconut oil has on cholesterol. 

How does coconut oil affect cholesterol? 

I have a good listener question for you this week.

Catherine writes:

I’ve lowered my saturated fat intake in an effort to reduce my cholesterol. Over the past several months, I’ve managed to bring it down about 40 points by reducing my red meat consumption.

I’ve also started to look for substitutes for full-fat dairy products like ice cream. Some of these, such as coconut milk based frozen desserts, have quite a bit of saturated fat. Is there a difference in the saturated fat of these two products in terms of how they affect my health?

As Catherine has discovered, reducing your saturated fat intake from food can be an effective way to reduce your blood cholesterol levels. Far more effective, in fact, than reducing your intake of dietary cholesterol. But saturated fats are a whole family of different fatty acids.

Here’s a quick review for those of you who might need a refresher on your fatty acid chemistry:

All fatty acids are “hydrocarbons,” meaning that they are built from carbon and hydrogen atoms. The carbon atoms form a sort of backbone, to which hydrogen atoms attach in various configurations.

When each of the carbons in the chain is linked to two hydrogen atoms, we say that it is fully hydrogenated, or saturated. (If some of the carbons have only one hydrogen partner, it’s an unsaturated fatty acid.) 

Saturated fats come in a variety of lengths, though. Butyric acid is a stumpy little thing, only 4 carbons long. Butyric acid is found in butter. (Butyric/butter sound similar, which makes that easy to remember.) Stearic acid, on the other hand, is a rangy 18 carbons long. Meat is relatively rich in stearic acid. (You can remember this because stearic sounds like “steer.”) Lauric acid, found in coconut oil, is in the middle, with 12 carbons. (I’m afraid I don’t have a handy mnemonic device for that one.)

So the question is whether all saturated fats tend to increase blood cholesterol or only some of them. And, by extension, is butter better or worse for your cholesterol than beef or coconut oil? Or, as Catherine is wondering, would a frozen dessert high in coconut oil be better or worse than full-fat ice cream?

You would think that this question would have been settled by now. But there’s not as much research as you might expect—and the results are a bit mixed. The effects of different fatty acids on cholesterol levels vary, depending on the total amount of fat and saturated fat in your diet, as well as whether or not you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

All the different types of saturated fats (including those in coconut oil) tend to increase total cholesterol levels, but there are some significant differences in their effects on HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and LDL (the “bad” kind).

So, here’s my best advice, based on the research I reviewed. If cholesterol is a concern, you are probably wise to limit your saturated fat intake (from all sources) to no more than 10% of calories. (For the typical adult, that’s about 20 to 25 grams per day.) Monounsaturated fats, such as those in olive oil and avocado, are really your best bet. (And here’s a fun fact: Most cuts of beef contain roughly equal amounts of monounsaturated and saturated fat.)

That’s not true of butter, which is mostly saturated. I really like the taste of butter, so I blend up a stick of butter with an equal amount of olive oil to make a “better butter” that is about half and half monounsaturated and saturated fat. As another plus, it’s spreadable straight out of the fridge, so it won’t tear up your toast.

But, back to Catherine’s original question: in terms of the effects on cardiovascular risk, a coconut-based frozen dessert would appear to be a better choice than full-fat ice cream. Both might have comparable amounts of saturated fat, but the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are less likely to drive up LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

However, if you’re trying to reduce your total cholesterol levels, you’d probably want to save the full-fat frozen desserts for special occasions—and in that case, I think you can afford to have whichever one tastes better to you.

Eggs and Oat Bran: The Cholesterol-Fiber Paradox

If cholesterol from food doesn’t affect blood cholesterol levels, why does eating soluble fiber reduce cholesterol? Nutrition Diva explains this apparent paradox. 

A listener named Dan asked:

We’re told that eating foods like oatmeal, which contains soluble fiber, can help lower cholesterol. My understanding is that this works because the fiber binds to the cholesterol in your food, preventing its absorption.

But we’re also told that the amount of cholesterol in your food doesn’t make much difference because, if you get more in your diet, your body just produces less.

If the soluble fiber is reducing absorption of dietary cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol doesn’t matter, then why would that reduce your serum cholesterol?

This is a great question but one that requires a bit of a deep dive to answer. But if this is not the place for deep dives into nutrition nerd-dom, I don’t know where is!

How dietary cholesterol affects blood cholesterol

About 80% of the cholesterol that’s circulating through your body right now was manufactured in your body, not extracted from your food. Most of that de novo cholesterol production happens in the liver, but small amounts are also manufactured in the small intestine.

And Dan’s absolutely right: The liver will ramp its production of cholesterol up or down in response to your dietary intake. Take in more cholesterol through food and the liver will make less, and vice versa. (Cholesterol production in the small intestine is not affected by that feedback loop, however.)

To some extent, the amount of cholesterol that you absorb from food is genetically determined. Some people are “hyper-absorbers” and for them, the amount of cholesterol in their food may have a bigger impact on their blood cholesterol levels.

But for most people, dietary cholesterol intake doesn’t have a significant impact on total blood (serum) cholesterol levels. More to the point, cholesterol intake does not appear to impact the risk of heart disease. This is why we are no longer advised to limit our consumption of dietary cholesterol (unless, of course, you’re one of those hyper absorbers).

If you’re looking for a dietary culprit for high blood cholesterol levels, look to saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, not cholesterol. Eggs and shrimp, which are both high in cholesterol, are virtually carb-free and relatively low in saturated fat.

How soluble fiber affects blood cholesterol

According to the National Lipid Association:

“Soluble fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestine and remove it from the body. Eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day can help lower total and LDL-cholesterol by 5 to 11 points, and sometimes more.”

You might imagine that when you eat eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, the soluble fiber in the oatmeal attaches to the cholesterol in the eggs and escorts it out of your body. And because you didn’t absorb the cholesterol from the eggs, the liver will compensate by making more, and the two effects will cancel each other out.

But the cholesterol that the fiber is binding to and removing from your body is not necessarily from foods that you eat. And this may explain the apparent paradox.

A lot of the cholesterol that your liver makes is used in the production of bile acid, which is released into the small intestine to help your body digest and absorb fat. In fact, your body converts about 500 mg of cholesterol a day to produce bile acids. That’s almost twice as much as most people take in through food, which is why the liver has the ability to produce more.

Most of the bile acids that are secreted into the small intestine get reabsorbed into the bloodstream as they pass through the ileum, which is the last stretch of small intestine that food goes through before entering the large intestine. At that point, the only things that get absorbed back into the body are water and electrolytes. Everything else gets eliminated as waste.

But soluble fiber binds to bile. So instead of those bile acids being reabsorbed and recycled, they are eliminated. That means the liver has to produce more bile to replace what is lost. Your liver then pulls more cholesterol out of your blood in order to make more bile acids—and that’s the primary mechanism by which soluble fiber reduces blood cholesterol levels. 

Adding soluble fiber to your diet will have a bigger impact on your blood cholesterol than reducing the amount of cholesterol in your food. Studies show that this is true both for people with and without high cholesterol.

It’s also true for people who are also taking statin drugs because statins reduce cholesterol through a completely different mechanism. Cholesterol is produced via a long chain of biochemical reactions known as the mevalonate pathway. Statins block the very first reaction in this pathway, which effectively shuts down the rest of the pathway. This decreases the amount of cholesterol that the liver can produce, thereby lowering blood cholesterol levels.

The link between high cholesterol and heart disease

But does lowering blood cholesterol really reduce the risk of heart disease? Some research suggests that the link between high cholesterol and heart disease is not nearly as straightforward as we have been led to believe. Although high levels of cholesterol (especially LDL cholesterol) are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, the majority of heart attack victims have normal cholesterol. And while the use of statin drugs does appear to reduce mortality, there may be other factors at work. In addition to reducing cholesterol levels, for example, statins also reduce inflammation—which is another risk factor for heart disease.

The decision to prescribe a statin drug should ideally be based on more than just one’s LDL cholesterol levels.  The amount, type, and ratios of other blood fats, age, sex, personal and familial health history and other risk factors should all be taken into consideration.

But whether or not your doctor feels that a cholesterol-lowering medication is right for you, eating soluble fiber offers a variety of benefits. In addition to lowering your cholesterol, they can also help modulate appetite and help with weight management, as well as promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.  You can get soluble fiber in oatmeal and oat bran as well as apples, pears, plums, barley, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms and garlic. Fiber supplements made from psyllium husk (Metamucil) or wheat dextrin (Benefiber) are also good sources.

How to Raise Your HDL

Having more HDL or “good” cholesterol in your blood reduces your risk of heart disease. Here are three ways to increase your good cholesterol level.

When people pay attention to their cholesterol levels, they’re usually focused on trying to lower them. But lower isn’t always better. Your total cholesterol level includes several different types of cholesterol.

What is HDL Cholesterol?

One type called high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, actually protects you against heart disease by carrying excess cholesterol back to your liver. That’s why you’ll often see it referred to as “good” cholesterol.   In general, higher levels of HDL cholesterol are a good thing. And what you eat can help improve your HDL levels.

How to Raise Your HDL or Good Cholesterol

One way is to eat a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. The only problem is that you’ll also end up increasing your LDL cholesterol and your triglycerides. Any benefit you might get from higher HDL is canceled out by increasing these other risk factors.

For this and lots of other reasons, I suggest you limit your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread. You don’t have to go low carb. Just eat most of your carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

How Fats Affect your Cholesterol Levels

The best advice I can give you is to avoid very low-fat diets.

The fat in your diet—both the type and the amount—has a big impact on your cholesterol levels but it’s tricky. Diets high in polyunsaturated fat, which is found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, tend to lower both types of cholesterol, both HDL and LDL. Diets high in saturated fat, on the other hand, which is found in meat, dairy products, coconut and palm oils tend to raise both types of cholesterol—also a mixed bag.

The best advice I can give you is to avoid very low-fat diets because they don’t really move anything in the right direction. As far as your cholesterol profile goes, a diet that’s a little bit higher in fat is probably a better choice than one that’s high in carbohydrates. And there appears to be some advantages to including both saturated and unsaturated fats in your diet. In other words, there’s room for both peanut butter and cheese!

Whatever you do, however, continue to be vigilant about avoiding foods made with partially hydrogenated oils. These are the dreaded trans fats, of course, and among their many sins is a tendency to lower those good HDL cholesterol levels and raise the bad LDL levels.

Other Foods that Raise HDL Cholesterol

Foods that are high in soluble fiber, such as flax seed, apples, oranges, and soybeans may help boost your HDL levels. Having a glass of wine with dinner appears to help as well (see above).

Olive oil and fish are often cited as foods that help raise HDL levels. However the actual evidence on this is somewhat weak. But because olive oil and fish oil both have other well-documented benefits, particularly for heart health, I think it’s a great idea to include them in your diet anyway.

A Mediterranean Diet May Boost HDL Cholesterol

So, let’s review what we have so far:

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates and trans fats
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat whole grains in moderation
  • Don’t avoid fat
  • Eat fish, nuts, olives, and seeds
  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation

If all of that sounds kind of familiar, you may be remembering my article on the Mediterranean Diet, which is essentially what I’ve just described. And, in fact, the Mediterranean Diet pattern has been found to raise HDL levels and otherwise positively affect risk factors for heart disease.

More on How to Increase HDL Cholesterol

Aside from diet, there are a few other things you can do to positively affect your HDL levels.

Be a woman. Women tend to have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men, especially before menopause.  Of course recent advances in medical technology notwithstanding, there’s probably only so far you’re willing to go in order to boost your HDL levels. So, let’s focus on things that are a little easier for you to change.

Maintain a healthy weight. Higher body weights are associated with lower HDL levels, and vice versa. Being able to zip up that prom dress or tuxedo 20, 30, or even 40 years later is more than class reunion vanity—it’s a prescription for a long and healthy life. Quick tip: If you are actively losing weight, you may see your HDL levels decline but once you stabilize at your goal weight, your HDL should rebound to a higher, healthier, level. 

Work out.   Engaging in moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise will raise your HDL levels, especially if they’re on the low side. If you need help getting motivated, look no further than Get Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle and Don’t Worry

Honestly, if you want to know how to increase HDL, the best way to get healthy levels is just to eat right and get some exercise. When you live a healthy lifestyle, HDL levels tend to take care of themselves.

How Can Your Cholesterol Levels Impact Your Dementia Risk? – EatingWell

How Can Your Cholesterol Levels Impact Your Dementia Risk? | EatingWell

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REFERENCE MATERIALS FOR CALIBRATION VERIFICATION TESTING OF CHOLESTEROL ASSAYS NOW AVAILABLE FROM VERICHEM – Bio-IT World

Verichem Laboratories is pleased to announce that it now offers medical laboratory professionals involved in patient testing, research and development, and diagnostic product manufacturing applications an extensive array of ready-to-use, liquid stable and ready-to-use clinical reference materials for Total Cholesterol, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) testing. Intended for calibration and calibration verification procedures, the Matrix Plus™ Total Cholesterol Reference Kit; the Matrix Plus™ Total Cholesterol Reference – Level F; and the HDL Cholesterol Verifier Kit supports overall laboratory QA and QC efforts. The advanced product design provides materials that are intended to be treated as human specimens and feature universal compatibility with wide variety of automated chemistry clinical systems.

All of Verichem’s clinical reference materials for Total Cholesterol, HDL, and LDL are protein-based and incorporate a proprietary stabilization process, free of azides, glycols, or surfactants. The unique serum-like formulation also contains a critical blend of highly purified human source material and bovine biologicals in saline. The use of such purified source components eliminates the matrix variations, quite common with many other serum-based products, and results in exceptional lot-to-lot product reproducibility and product performance characteristics. In addition, the material’s pH, matrix composition and fresh, human source materials are kept constant for optimum linearity, even with the most sensitive methods. This unique feature, along with a set point designs following CLIA and CLSI protocols, are critical for the determination of a clinical system’s accuracy, sensitivity, linearity, and reportable range and demonstrates the cutting edge in both Total Cholesterol and Lipoprotein reference materials.

The Matrix Plus™ Total Cholesterol Reference Kit, along with the optional Level F, comprise a multi-level six (6) concentration set of materials, with Total Cholesterol values ranging from 40 to 750 mg/dL. Each active component is verified using available Standard Reference Materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and fully documented with a Certificate of Analysis. The kit offers exceptional optical clarity and is conveniently packaged for multi-use containing fifteen milliliters (15.0 mL) of material filled into easy-to-use, opaque polyethylene dropper vials and offers an outstanding shelf-life stability claim of twenty-one (21) months from the date of manufacture when stored at 2° to 8°C.   

Verichem’s HDL Cholesterol Verifier Kit also comprises a six (6) level concentration set of HDL and LDL Cholesterol determined via direct measurement using certified reference method calibration materials.  This kit also includes a Value Assignment Sheet with target values assigned using various clinical methods. The product is ergonomically packaged with five milliliters (5.0 mL) of material at each concentration level, which is ample to cover multiple verification testing events and other uses. All materials are filled within easy-to-use, translucent polyethylene dropper vials and feature an exceptional shelf-life stability claim of fourteen (14) months from the date of manufacture, when stored at temperatures of -15° to -25°C.  Plus, this unique product can be frozen and thawed for up to ten (10) cycles, without affecting concentration accuracy or test performance. 

VERICHEM LABORATORIES serves the clinical laboratory testing and in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) manufacturing markets with a comprehensive line of calibration verification products, chemistry standards, reference materials, and support services  ̶  including free, instant online data reduction reports for CLIA compliance. For additional information, contact Verichem Laboratories Inc. at 90 Narragansett Avenue, Providence, RI 02907 USA. Phone: 800-552-5859; FAX: 401-467-1540; Email: customerservice@verichemlabs.com. Please visit our website at www.verichemlabs.com

‘Good’ Cholesterol May Not Be as Good as We Thought – Everyday Health

For decades now, high levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol — also called “good” cholesterol — have been said to lower the likelihood for heart disease and stroke, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New research, however, challenges HDL’s role in predicting cardiovascular risk.

Published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the study — which was supported by the National Institutes of Health — confirmed that low levels of HDL cholesterol indicated a greater risk of heart attacks or related deaths among white adults — although that did not prove to be the case for Black adults.

In addition, the investigation noted that higher HDL cholesterol levels did not appear to be associated with any cardiovascular benefit in either white or Black participants.

“The goal was to understand this long-established link that labels HDL as the beneficial cholesterol, and if that’s true for all ethnicities,” said Nathalie Pamir, PhD, a senior author of the study and an associate professor of medicine within the Knight Cardiovascular Institute at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, in a statement. “It’s been well accepted that low HDL cholesterol levels are detrimental, regardless of race. Our research tested those assumptions.”

Dr. Pamir and her collaborators analyzed data on 23,901 Black (43.2 percent) and white (57.8 percent) adults age 45 and older who participated in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study (REGARDS), a project focusing on stroke risk factors. Over an average of 10 years of follow-up, 664 Black and 951 white participants experienced a heart attack or heart attack–related death.

Study authors observed that both Black and white adults with increased levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (sometimes called “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) had modestly increased risks for coronary heart disease, which corresponds with findings upheld by the CDC and other health sources, such as the American Heart Association.

Results also showed that high HDL cholesterol levels were not always linked with reduced cardiovascular events in both Black and white study participants. The findings back up growing evidence that higher than optimal amounts of “good” cholesterol may not provide cardiovascular benefits, as noted in a release by the European Society of Cardiology.

HDL cholesterol has been considered “good” because the HDL molecule is involved in the transport of cholesterol from the blood and blood vessel walls to the liver and ultimately out of the body, thereby reducing the risk of clogged arteries and atherosclerosis. In some cases, however, HDL may be too much of a good thing. A scientific paper published in 2021 in the journal Biomedicines said “it appears that higher HDL-C is not necessarily protective against cardiovascular disease and it can even be harmful in extremely high quantities.”

Mounting research may change the way HDL is used as a measure of heart health. “It could mean that in the future we don’t get a pat on the back by our doctors for having higher HDL cholesterol levels,” Pamir said.

Some Heart Health Measures May Be Influenced by Race

In addition, this current analysis found that lower HDL cholesterol levels only predicted increased cardiovascular disease risk for white and not Black adults. The researchers highlighted that established perceptions about “good” cholesterol levels and heart health have largely been based on studies involving mostly white participants, and such measures may be race dependent.

“Our race-dependent observations indicate that the underlying biologic mechanism by which HDL cholesterol associates with incident coronary heart disease in white and Black participants is different from that of other lipid [fat-like substances in the blood] risk factors,” wrote the authors. “Our findings [regarding HDL measures] expose the weaknesses in their use, because such categories might not apply to Black men and women, reducing their value in coronary heart disease risk assessment.”

A deeper dive into this topic is warranted as using HDL cholesterol could lead to inaccurate predictions for Black adults, according to Pamir and her colleagues.

“When it comes to risk factors for heart disease, they cannot be limited to one race or ethnicity,” she said. “They need to apply to everyone.”

Lose weight, lower cholesterol: Which diet is best? – Medical News Today

A diet that is high in fiber, plant foods, unsaturated fats, and low in saturated and trans fats may help lower cholesterol.

Diet can play an important role in managing cholesterol and may help lower high cholesterol levels.

Certain foods may help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. People sometimes call LDL cholesterol “bad” cholesterol, as higher levels of it can build up in the walls of the arteries.

On the other hand, people may refer to HDL cholesterol as “good” cholesterol, as it can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body.

This article looks at diet plans that can lower cholesterol and help a person lose weight.

The following diets may help lower cholesterol, as well as support heart health.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits and may help lower cholesterol. The Mediterranean diet focuses on the following foods:

The Mediterranean diet limits dairy, red meat, and processed meat.

The diet includes a high level of plant sterols from vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, which help lower cholesterol levels.

A higher intake of nuts may help improve total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Legumes and whole grains, such as oats, contain soluble fiber and appear to have beneficial effects on LDL cholesterol levels.

A higher intake of fish may increase HDL cholesterol levels and reduce triglycerides.

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet with a 7-day meal plan.

Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet

The DASH diet is a dietary plan from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help lower blood pressure. This diet may also be highly effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

The DASH diet consists of:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • fat-free or low fat dairy
  • fish
  • poultry
  • beans
  • nuts
  • vegetable oils
  • limiting saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

A 2021 study looked at the effects of the DASH diet with restricted calories on cardiometabolic health in 28 older Caucasian adults with obesity.

The research found that over 12 weeks, the DASH diet significantly reduced the participants’ total cholesterol levels by 4.9%, with a 4% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.

The positive effects on cholesterol from this diet may be due to the high levels of dietary fiber and reduced levels of saturated fat.

The study also found that HDL cholesterol levels decreased in participants with this diet. Researchers are unclear as to whether this affected the overall function of HDL cholesterol, which could negatively impact cardiovascular health.

Researchers need further evidence to conclude the effects of the DASH diet on HDL cholesterol.

Learn more about the DASH diet and how to get started.

Vegetarian or flexitarian

A healthy vegetarian diet focuses mainly on plant foods, but may also include dairy and eggs. Flexitarians eat mostly plant-based foods, with some animal products.

According to a 2020 article, vegetarian diets generally have a higher intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and nuts. Research suggests that vegetarians typically have lower LDL cholesterol levels than omnivores.

Learn more

Learn more about vegetarian or flexitarian diets and meal plans.

Vegan or plant-based diet

Vegans eat a plant-based diet with no animal products. According to a 2018 meta-analysis, a vegan diet may have beneficial effects on LDL cholesterol.

The research found that in most countries, people following a vegan diet had lower LDL cholesterol, as well as lower triglycerides. A vegan diet may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

According to a 2017 review, plant-based diets, and particularly vegan diets, link to lower levels of total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol in the blood.

A vegan diet may only be beneficial if it is rich in whole foods. If a person’s diet is high in processed, packaged foods, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates, it may not be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Learn more

Learn more about vegan diets and meal plans.

Portfolio diet

The portfolio diet is a vegan diet that focuses on foods that lower cholesterol and may help reduce LDL cholesterol. This diet recommends a daily intake of the following to lower cholesterol:

  • 2 grams (g) plant sterols
  • 50 g nuts
  • 10–25 g soluble fibers from plant foods
  • 50 g soy protein

The portfolio diet does not include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or dairy.

Learn more

Learn more about other diets and meal plans to try.

This section looks at some meal ideas that may help lower cholesterol.

Mediterranean

  • poached eggs, avocado, and arugula on whole grain toast with an olive spread
  • a vegetable omelet with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and spinach
  • chickpea and lentil pasta with baked chicken, feta, fresh tomatoes, spinach, and olives
  • baked cod with asparagus, peas, and roast potatoes
  • Greek yogurt with berries and chia seeds
  • a green salad with spinach, arugula, cucumbers, shredded beets, red onions, sunflower seeds, and a low fat dressing

Vegetarian

  • shakshuka, or eggs poached in a tomato sauce with olive oil, onions, garlic, and peppers, spiced with paprika and cayenne pepper
  • vegetable lasagna with fresh tomato sauce, peppers, spinach, onions, garlic, and a bechamel sauce
  • an egg salad with spinach, arugula, and spring onions
  • Greek yogurt with oatmeal, peanut butter, and bananas

Vegan

  • oat granola with soy yogurt, berries, chia seeds, and almond butter
  • scrambled tofu on whole grain toast, with a spinach, beet, and arugula salad
  • baked butternut squash with cauliflower rice
  • sweet potato curry with chickpeas, red lentils, and spinach
  • whole wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes, peppers, spinach, and olives

Diets that may not be beneficial for lowering cholesterol include:

Ketogenic

The ketogenic, or keto diet, focuses on limiting carbohydrates and increasing fat intake.

In the short term, between 2–6 months, a keto diet may help lower triglycerides and help people lose weight. Following a keto diet for longer than 6 months may not deliver sustained results.

In the long term, a keto diet that heavily restricts carbohydrates may lack fiber and nutrients, as it is typically low in starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

Long-term ketogenic diets with a low carbohydrate intake and high intake of animal-based fat and protein may increase LDL cholesterol and increase the risk of cardiac and non-cardiac-related mortality.

Atkins diet

The Atkins diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet (LCHF) that includes animal-based protein and fats and limits carbohydrates.

A 2018 study looked at the effects of an LCHF diet on what the authors describe as “30 healthy normal weight” young adults. The study found that eating an LCHF diet for 3 weeks increased the participants’ LDL cholesterol levels by up to 44% compared to controls.

Low fat diet

A low fat diet may reduce LDL cholesterol in people with obesity, but it may decrease their HDL cholesterol and increase triglycerides.

Eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, but incorporating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, may have beneficial effects on a person’s cholesterol and overall cardiovascular health.

Foods that may increase cholesterol are higher in saturated and trans fats.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that a person limit their intake of saturated fats to less than 6% of their total daily calories. They also recommend that people eliminate trans fats from their diet as best as they can.

Foods to avoid include:

  • red meat
  • processed meat, such as hot dogs and bacon
  • poultry with its skin on
  • full fat dairy
  • butter and lard
  • cream
  • cheese
  • fried foods
  • foods containing hydrogenated oils, such as baked goods
  • tropical oils, such as palm oil and coconut oil

Diets, such as plant-based, Mediterranean, or the DASH diet, may be best for lowering cholesterol. These diets focus on foods that can improve a person’s cholesterol levels, such as soluble fiber, unsaturated fats, and plant sterols.

Low carbohydrate, high fat diets may not be beneficial for cholesterol levels in the long term, as these diets may be high in saturated fats and low in fiber and plant foods.

What type of honey could help reduce cholesterol, blood sugar? – Medical News Today

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Raw honey could help bring cholesterol levels down, according to a new study. Image credit: Roberta Sorge/EyeEm/Getty Images.
  • A new study finds that honey, unlike other sweeteners, may actually be good for cardiometabolic health.
  • The benefits of honey were revealed in studies of people who ate a heavy diet containing 10% or less sugar.
  • The study suggests that honey — particularly raw, monofloral honey ‚ may be a healthier replacement for sugar already being consumed, rather than additional sweetener added to one’s daily intake.

Consider replacing the sugar you consume with honey, says a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto.

For people on a healthy diet in which no more than 10% of daily calories come from sugar, honey actually provides cardiometabolic benefits.

The study is a review and meta-analysis of the effects of honey in 18 controlled feeding trials involving 1,105 predominantly healthy individuals.

Taken together, the trials showed that honey lowered fasting blood glucose (blood sugar levels on an empty stomach), total and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, as well as a marker of fatty liver disease. They also found that honey increased markers of inflammation.

While sugars of all kinds are associated with cardiometabolic issues — and honey is 80% sugar — the study’s authors suggest that honey may be in a category of its own, and worthy of special consideration as a healthy food.

The researchers found that raw honey and monofloral honey provide the most cardiometabolic benefit.

The study appears in Nutrition Reviews.

Unlike most sweeteners, honey’s sweetening power does not come exclusively from common sugars, such as fructose and glucose.

Co-author of the study Dr. Tauseef Ahmad Khan, research associate at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada, told Medical News Today:

“Around 15% of honey is made of dozens of rare sugars — e.g., isomaltulose, kojibiose, trehalose, melezitose, etc. — which have been shown to have many physiological and metabolic benefits including improving glucose response, reducing insulin resistance, and promoting [the] growth of bacteria associated with a healthy gut.”

In addition, said Dr. Khan, honey contains much more than sugars.

This includes, he said, “many bioactive molecules, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and organic acids that have an array of pharmacological properties including antibiotic effect, anti-cancer effect, anti-obesogenic [anti-obesity] effect, protection against free radical damage and reducing inflammation, etc.”

Endocrinologist Dr. Ana Maria Kausel, who was not involved in the study, told MNT that she would nevertheless prefer the focus remain on reducing the intake of sugar.

“I think the focus should be more towards having less sugar overall in the diet. The benefits were seen after consuming an average of 40 grams for 8 weeks. This amount of sugar is more than what the body can process without involving the liver. We can see similar benefits in [cardiovascular] and metabolic risks without the sugar intake, for example, the Mediterranean diet,” she pointed out.

Honey products are frequently pasteurized — raw honey is not.

Honey is pasteurized for convenience, not safety, since the processing slows honey’s naturally occurring granulation, which can make it harder to pour out of a squeeze bottle or measure into a spoon.

Raw honey has an array of nutrients, including many antioxidants, which may diminish in quantity with pasteurization.

The current study found that raw honey had a particularly positive effect on fasting glucose.

Most honey is polyfloral, meaning that the bees that produce it collect nectar from any nectar-producing plants within a 2-to-4-mile range from their hive.

A monofloral honey is one that is derived exclusively from the bee-collected nectar of a single type of plant, or even a single plant.

Well-known monofloral honeys include Tupelo honey — from White Ogeechee Tupelo trees — clover honey, robinia honey, and French lavender honey. Each has a distinctive flavor.

The researchers found that clover and robinia monofloral honeys lowered LDL cholesterol and overall cholesterol, as well as fasting triglycerides. Clover honey also reduced fasting glucose levels.

Excessive inflammation is increasingly associated with a variety of illnesses and conditions, so the study’s finding that honey raised inflammation markers IL-6 and TNF-alpha may give rise to some concern.

However, Dr. Khan suggested that an increase in these markers may actually indicate additional benefits.

“IL-6 may play a role in maintaining good glucose control by improving whole body metabolism of both glucose and lipids,” he said. “Similarly, TNF-alpha is an indicator of innate body immune response, so an increase with honey intake may suggest improved immunity.”

“I am interested,” said Dr. Khan, “in all natural sweeteners, and plan to look at maple syrup and, of course, agave syrup. However, there is a major difference between these syrups and honey.”

“Syrups like maple syrup and agave are directly obtained from plants, with some processing by humans using heat, and are mainly composed of common sugars like fructose, glucose, and sucrose,” he added/

As Dr. Kausel put it, “agave is natural, but it’s fructose at the end of the day.

“High fructose concentrations,” she pointed out, “are bad for the liver, no matter what the source is. Even natural juices are harmful for the liver, despite all the vitamins and minerals they might contain.”

Still, the way honeybees make honey adds an interesting twist that make its sugars different.

“Honey,” explained Dr. Khan, “has an additional step whereby the honeybees extensively process nectar [which is mainly sucrose] from flowers with their enzymes, which results in a large variety of rare sugars being produced in honey. These rare sugars are the key to the benefits of honey sugars over other natural sugars.”

Does cinnamon lower cholesterol? – Medical News Today

Some people take cinnamon supplements to reduce their cholesterol. While some studies suggest it has a cholesterol-lowering effect, conclusive evidence is lacking. Diet and lifestyle changes may be more effective for people with high blood cholesterol.

This article will look into the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol, how a person can reduce their cholesterol, and when to see a doctor.

Cinnamon is a type of spice. Several types of cinnamon exist. They come from different species of the cinnamon tree.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes that the most common type of cinnamon sold is cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is grown in southeastern Asia.

Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It can come in powdered form or sticks of dried bark. Additionally, people sometimes take cinnamon as a dietary supplement.

People use cinnamon in sweet and savory foods. Countries such as China, India, and Iran have also used cinnamon in traditional medicine.

There is some controversy about whether cinnamon can lower cholesterol. Below, we look at what cholesterol is and what research says about cinnamon’s effect on cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance that the body uses to build cells and make vitamins and hormones. A person’s liver makes all the cholesterol they need. Cholesterol is also taken into the body from the food a person eats.

Lipoproteins carry cholesterol around a person’s bloodstream. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol.

Experts sometimes refer to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) as “good” cholesterol, as it transports cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then removes it from the body.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as “bad” cholesterol. This can build up inside a person’s arteries, leading to blockages. These blockages can cause health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke.

Learn more about HDL vs. LDL cholesterol.

Research into the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol

Research from 2017 looked into the effects of cinnamon on people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is when a person has diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Researchers found that, after 16 weeks, participants who took 3 grams (g) of cinnamon supplements daily had:

These improvements were more significant in people who had taken cinnamon supplements than in those who did not. However, researchers note that further studies are needed to investigate these effects.

Researchers also gave participants healthy diets to follow and encouraged them to exercise. Additionally, the researchers did not mention the kind of cinnamon used.

A research review from 2021 looked at various studies on the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol. Reviewers found several studies concluding that cinnamon helped reduce LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Reviewers also noted that in a study in healthy participants, LDL levels were lowered after 3 months of treatment with increasing levels of cinnamon. However, HDL levels did not improve. Another study in healthy participants found no difference in cholesterol levels between people taking cinnamon and those not.

Yet another study in the review found no difference in cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes after daily treatment with 1 g of cinnamon for 3 months.

The American Heart Association (AHA) looked into the effects of dietary supplements compared with cholesterol-lowering medication. These dietary supplements included a daily 2.4 g cinnamon supplement.

Researchers found that, after 28 days, the LDL and total cholesterol levels of people taking the supplements were similar to those of people taking a placebo. Researchers also stated that dietary supplements are unlikely to directly affect a person’s cholesterol levels.

People should speak with their doctor before changing their diet if they want to lower their cholesterol levels. Supplements should never be used in place of prescription medication.

People claim various spices may help lower a person’s cholesterol. There is some evidence that the following spices may help to improve a person’s cholesterol levels. However, these spices should not be used instead of prescribed medication.

Ginger

A 2018 study found that taking 5 g of raw ginger daily for 3 months reduced LDL levels in people with high cholesterol. However, the study size was fairly small, so further research is required to confirm these effects.

Learn more about the health benefits of ginger.

Capsaicin

A review from 2022 looked into the effects of capsaicin on cholesterol. Capsaicin is a component of chili peppers. Reviewers found that eight out of nine studies researched found that capsaicin reduced LDL levels in people with metabolic syndrome.

However, reviewers also found that eight out of nine studies indicated that capsaicin did not affect HDL.

Learn more about the health benefits of capsaicin.

Garlic

Research from 2016 studied the effects of garlic and lemon juice on cholesterol. Researchers noted that people with high cholesterol had a reduction in LDL and total cholesterol levels after taking 20 g of garlic and a teaspoon of lemon juice daily for 8 weeks.

However, people taking garlic and lemon juice and those in other groups that took garlic or lemon juice had only an increase in HDL levels. Researchers note that more studies into these effects are required.

Learn more about the health benefits of garlic.

Turmeric

A review from 2017 looked into the effects of turmeric and its component curcumin on cholesterol.

Reviewers found seven studies that stated that turmeric and curcumin could reduce LDL levels in people at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, reviewers suggested further studies should be undertaken into these effects.

Learn more about the health benefits of turmeric.

A person can reduce their cholesterol levels by changing their lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following advice for a person who wants to lower their cholesterol:

  • Limit saturated fats: Decrease intake of foods high in saturated fat, such as cheese, dairy, fatty meats, and tropical oils, such as palm oil.
  • Eat a healthy diet: For a balanced, nutritious diet, choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and added sugar, such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Add fiber to your diet: Consume foods that naturally have high fiber, such as oatmeal and beans.
  • Eat unsaturated fats: Foods that contain unsaturated fats include avocados and nuts.
  • Lose weight if you need to: As needed, lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. This can lower blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help people maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stop smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels, harden arteries, and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Too much alcohol can raise cholesterol levels.

A doctor may also prescribe cholesterol-reducing medication, such as statins.

High cholesterol levels do not cause any symptoms. This means that a person should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly.

The CDC recommends that a healthy person should have their cholesterol levels checked every 4 to 6 years. If a person has a health condition, such as heart disease or diabetes, they may need to have their cholesterol levels checked more frequently.

Additionally, a person with a family history of high cholesterol should have their levels checked more often.

The CDC also suggests that children and adolescents between ages 9⁠ and 11 and ages 17⁠ and 21 should have their cholesterol levels checked.

Learn more about cholesterol level tests.

Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of cinnamon trees. Some research suggests that cinnamon may be able to improve cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed to assess cinnamon’s effect on cholesterol.

A person should never use cinnamon or other supplements in place of prescribed medication.

People claim that various other spices can improve cholesterol levels. However, these effects require more studies before they can be confirmed.

A person can reduce their cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes. Additionally, a doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication to people with high cholesterol.

High cholesterol levels do not cause any symptoms. This means a person should have their cholesterol levels checked by a doctor every 4 to 6 years.

Are peanuts good or bad for cholesterol? – Medical News Today

Peanuts contain monounsaturated fats and plant sterols that may help improve cholesterol levels. Peanuts are also a good source of plant-based protein, which may help with weight loss.

Peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil may all be beneficial for cholesterol. Although high in calories, eating them in moderation may also help people maintain a moderate weight as part of a healthy diet.

This article looks at how peanuts affect cholesterol, ways to include them in the diet, and other tips for managing cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is a type of fat that the liver makes. It is also present in some foods. Diet and lifestyle factors can affect how much cholesterol is in the bloodstream.

Certain proteins, called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol around the body. There are two main types of cholesterol:

Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. A combination of high triglyceride levels, high LDL and low HDL levels may increase the risk of plaques forming in the arteries.

Total cholesterol is the measurement of both LDL and HDL cholesterol in the blood.

Learn about the causes of high cholesterol.

Peanuts are a source of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats help reduce LDL cholesterol and help protect heart health.

Peanuts contain a range of compounds that help prevent cholesterol absorption from dietary sources. These compounds include:

Phytosterols may help improve cholesterol levels and lower LDL cholesterol by up to 14%, helping to reduce cardiovascular risks.

Peanuts are also high in arginine, an amino acid that helps improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and may be beneficial in treating heart-related disease.

According to a 2020 article, low cholesterol diets that focus on plant-based protein and fats, including nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter, are linked to lower mortality rates than diets with animal-based protein and fats, such as lamb, pork, or chicken.

A 2021 review looked at the effects of peanuts and tree nuts on people with diabetes. The research suggests that a daily intake of peanuts and tree nuts may significantly reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.

There was no evidence that daily intake of peanuts and tree nuts altered concentrations of LDL or HDL cholesterol. This suggests peanuts may be a helpful addition in monitoring blood fats in people with type 2 diabetes.

Although peanuts are high in calories, they may help people maintain a moderate weight. A 2019 study found that increasing nut consumption of any type, including peanuts, may help reduce weight gain in the long term. Replacing less healthy foods with nuts and including them as part of a healthy diet may help prevent obesity.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), excess weight may contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Losing as little as 5–10% of body weight may help a person improve their cholesterol levels.

Learn more about the nutritional benefits of peanuts.

According to the AHA, the recommended serving size for nuts — including peanuts — is either a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.

People may choose to consume peanuts in the form of:

Palm oil and palm kernel oil are sources of saturated fat, which may increase cholesterol. A person should look for peanut butter without these ingredients and without added sugars.

People can eat peanuts raw or roasted. Excess salt can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health conditions, so look for unsalted peanuts and peanut butter with low salt. Eating peanuts with their skin on may increase their antioxidant content.

People can use peanut oil for cooking, salad dressings, or marinades, such as peanut sauce.

Learn more about the different types of fat.

A person can consider other ways to help lower LDL and increase HDL cholesterol. This includes:

  • limiting intake of saturated fats found in meat, dairy, and tropical oils
  • limiting intake of trans fats found in baked goods, fried foods, or foods containing hydrogenated oils
  • including healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, oily fish, olives, and seeds
  • using liquid plant oils, such as sunflower, canola, or olive oil
  • increasing soluble fiber intake by eating foods such as oats, lentils, beans, barley, fruits, and vegetables
  • eating plant sterols, compounds that occur naturally in plant foods and may fortify certain foods such as cereals, low fat yogurt, and milk
  • increasing physical activity, particularly aerobic and resistance exercise, and aiming for 30–60 minutes per day
  • achieving and maintaining a moderate weight
  • limiting alcohol intake to reduce triglyceride levels, and lower the risk of high blood pressure and obesity
  • quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
  • taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, if necessary

Learn about lowering cholesterol naturally without medication.

Peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which help reduce LDL cholesterol. Limiting saturated and trans fats and replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help improve cholesterol levels.

Peanuts also contain phytosterols, which help to lower LDL cholesterol. Peanuts are rich in arginine, which may help to improve blood vessel health and lower blood pressure.

Peanuts are a good source of plant protein, and eating them in moderation as part of a healthy diet may help people avoid weight gain. Reducing excess weight can help to increase HDL cholesterol levels while decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

People can eat peanuts raw or roasted, as peanut butter, or use peanut oil in cooking and sauces. A daily serving consists of a small handful of peanuts or 2 tbsp of peanut butter.