Not all “good” cholesterol is healthy – EurekAlert

HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) or good cholesterol is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease as it transports cholesterol deposited in the arteries to the liver to be eliminated. This contrasts with the so-called bad cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), which causes cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries and increases cardiovascular risk. Although drugs that lower bad cholesterol reduce cardiovascular risk, those that raise good cholesterol have not proven effective in reducing the risk of heart disease. This paradox has called into question the relationship between good cholesterol and cardiovascular risk, and researchers are now studying the characteristics of these HDL or good cholesterol particles.

A study led by the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), published in the journal Metabolism, Clinical and Experimental, has now demonstrated that not all good cholesterol is healthy. Researchers from the CIBER on Cardiovascular Diseases (CIBERCV), the CIBER on Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN), and the CIBER on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), as well as others from Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS, IDIBELL, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau Research Institute, and the Hospital Clínico Universitario in Zaragoza also took part in this study.

In the work, the researchers analysed genetic characteristics that determine the size of good cholesterol particles, and then studied their relationship with the risk of myocardial infarction. The conclusion is that genetic characteristics linked to the generation of large good cholesterol particles are directly associated with a higher risk of heart attack, while features linked to small good cholesterol particles are related to a lower risk of heart attack. “There is a positive causal relationship between the size of HDL cholesterol particles and the risk of heart attack, so although we have to increase the levels of good cholesterol in the blood, they must always be small particles”, explains the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Robert Elosua, a researcher at the Hospital del Mar-IMIM, CIBERCV, and the University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC).

The good cholesterol particles are more effective in transferring cholesterol to the liver so that it can be eliminated. “If we need to do something in relation to HDL, it is to increase the number of small particles, which are those that adequately perform the function of eliminating cholesterol, those that really move it to the liver for removal, and do not allow it to accumulate in the arteries and cause cardiovascular disease”, says Dr. Álvaro Hernáez, a IDIBAPS and CIBEROBN researcher.

Currently, there are no drugs that increase good cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. “This study highlights new and potential therapeutic targets in the field of cardiovascular diseases, including several genes related to the qualitative aspects of HDL particles, which may contribute to cardiovascular prevention”, concludes Dr. Albert Prats, a researcher in the Epidemiology and Cardiovascular Genetics Research Group at the Hospital del Mar-IMIM and first author of the study.


Reference article

Prats A, Sayols-Baixeras S, Fernández-Sanlés A, Subirana I, Carreras-Torres R, Vilahur G, Civeira F, Marrugat J, Fitó M, Hernáez A*, Elosua R*. High-density lipoprotein characteristics and coronary artery disease: a Mendelian randomization study. Metabolism. 2020 Sep 4;112:154351. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2020.154351. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32891675.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

High cholesterol: Symptoms, causes, and treatments – Medical News Today

High cholesterol levels do not usually cause any obvious symptoms. As a result, people are often not aware that they have high cholesterol until a screening test shows abnormal results.

High cholesterol levels can have harmful effects on the body, but people can take steps to lower them. In some cases, doctors may also prescribe medications.

Keep reading to learn about the effects of high cholesterol, as well as the causes and treatment options.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that the liver makes. Its functions include:

  • being a component of bile acids, which aid in the digestion of fatty foods
  • being the precursor of steroid hormones
  • helping the skin make vitamin D when it has exposure to sunlight
  • playing a key role in cell membrane health

As the body can make all of the cholesterol that it uses for these functions, people do not need to get it from their diet. As long as the body has cholesterol in the right amounts, this substance is beneficial. However, it becomes a risk factor for several conditions when there is too much of it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that the two main types of cholesterol are:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

People sometimes refer to this as “bad” cholesterol. High LDL levels cause plaque to build up in the blood vessels, narrowing them. This narrowing can lead to stroke, heart attack, and other problems.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

People sometimes call this “good” cholesterol. Therefore, low HDL levels may also be a health concern.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), high levels of LDL cholesterol usually do not cause symptoms. As a result, individuals are often unaware of the high levels until they get their results from a cholesterol screening.

However, the NHLBI note that some people with very high levels may experience grayish-white rings around the corneas in their eyes or fatty bumps on their skin.

The CDC state that about 38% of people in the United States have high cholesterol, so it is important to have a screening periodically. The diagnosis and treatment of this condition can help prevent serious problems.

Over time, high cholesterol may lead to the development of atherosclerosis, note the NHLBI.

In this condition, plaque accumulates in blood vessels throughout the body. Once the plaque buildup obstructs blood flow, it can lead to the following:

A 2014 study found that high cholesterol and high blood pressure may work together to contribute to the development of coronary heart disease. The authors reported that people with the highest cholesterol and blood pressure levels had the greatest risk of death from the condition.

Doctors will generally categorize a person’s total cholesterol according to these ranges:

The optimal levels of LDL cholesterol are less than 100 mg/dl, while HDL cholesterol levels should ideally be 60 mg/dl or higher.

The NHLBI report that the following factors may cause abnormal cholesterol levels:

  • Diet and lifestyle: These factors, which are the most common cause, include physical inactivity, smoking, and eating an imbalanced diet.
  • Certain medications: Some drugs can increase levels of LDL cholesterol or decrease levels of HDL cholesterol. Examples include chemotherapy drugs for cancer and beta-blockers for reducing high blood pressure.
  • Genes: People may inherit a tendency to have high levels of LDL cholesterol.

In addition, some conditions are associated with abnormal levels of cholesterol. These conditions include:

  • Diabetes: High cholesterol is common in people with this disease.
  • Hypothyroidism: This condition happens when the thyroid gland does not make enough hormones. Signs of the condition include high levels of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
  • Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A low level of HDL cholesterol is one of the risk factors.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that people follow the habits below to lower their cholesterol.

Eat a heart-healthy diet

A heart-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, low fat dairy products, and nontropical vegetable oils. It also involves limiting foods high in salt and sugar, along with red and processed meats.

The best dietary practice to lower cholesterol is to avoid saturated and trans fats, which are present in various food sources, such as fatty meats and packaged foods.

Exercise regularly

A sedentary lifestyle lowers HDL cholesterol — an effect that raises LDL cholesterol. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week can lower total cholesterol and blood pressure.

Quit smoking, if applicable

When a person with high cholesterol smokes, it further increases their risk of coronary artery disease.

Quitting smoking can raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol.

As secondhand smoke is also harmful, nonsmokers should avoid exposure where possible.

Reach or maintain a moderate weight

Overweight and obesity raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Losing as little as 5–10% of body weight can improve cholesterol levels.

Doctors prescribe several types of medications to lower cholesterol. The CDC list the following:

  • Statins: These drugs reduce the liver’s production of LDL cholesterol and increase its ability to remove this substance.
  • Niacin: This B vitamin increases HDL cholesterol while decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  • Bile acid sequestrants: These molecules remove bile acids, which helps decrease cholesterol.
  • Injectable medicines: Doctors mainly use these drugs for people with a genetic condition that causes very high levels of LDL cholesterol.

Anyone with cholesterol levels that do not fall within the desirable range should see a doctor.

The person’s treatment options will depend on how high their cholesterol levels are and whether they have other risk factors for heart attack or stroke.

The CDC report that doctors may prescribe drugs for people who have an LDL cholesterol level of at least 190 mg/dl without risk factors or at least 70 mg/dl with risk factors.

As there are no symptoms of high cholesterol, people may have it without being aware.

The most common cause is unhealthy habits, so doctors typically recommend making certain lifestyle changes. These include practices such as eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking.

Doctors also prescribe medications for certain individuals. A person with high cholesterol should visit their doctor to get a personalized treatment plan.

Eggs and cholesterol: What to know – Medical News Today

Eggs are a nutritious and inexpensive staple of diets around the world. However, they have long been controversial because of their cholesterol-packed yolks.

The relationship between cholesterol from eggs and cholesterol levels in the body is complicated. Understanding how cholesterol works and its relationship with egg consumption may help a person follow a healthy diet.

This article reviews the growing body of evidence suggesting that eggs are actually healthy to include in the diet and do not raise cholesterol for most people.

It also looks at cholesterol levels in eggs and presents a few egg alternatives to consider.

The liver naturally produces cholesterol. It is a fatty compound in every cell, and the body needs it to stay healthy.

The body needs cholesterol for several processes. It is a structural molecule in cell membranes, and the body needs it to produce bile for digestion, vitamin D, and steroid hormones, such as estrogens and testosterone.

The liver produces enough cholesterol to supply the body’s needs. However, a person can also consume cholesterol in their diet. If someone consumes foods high in cholesterol, their liver responds by slowing down cholesterol production.

This balances out cholesterol levels and keeps them constant, meaning that dietary sources of cholesterol, including eggs, typically have minimal impact on blood cholesterol.

Nevertheless, this waxy compound has a bad reputation because of its links to coronary heart disease and stroke.

The story behind cholesterol and its effects on human health is complex, partly because there are different versions of this molecule that act differently in the body. These may lead to healthy or unhealthy effects when their levels change.

As part of normal body processes, molecules called lipoproteins combine with cholesterol to carry it in the blood.

There are two general types of cholesterol, depending on the type of lipoprotein they are attached to. These are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol

When people talk about the negative health effects of cholesterol, they are often referring to total cholesterol levels and the levels of a type generally known as LDL cholesterol.

This is what people consider to be the “bad” type of cholesterol.

If there is too much LDL cholesterol in a person’s blood, it can stick to their blood vessel walls. Over time, this buildup of cholesterol can form plaques that narrow the arteries. This makes it harder for blood to flow through, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

HDL cholesterol

People consider HDL cholesterol to be the “good” cholesterol. It helps keep bad cholesterol levels in check by transporting it to the liver, which recycles or removes it from the body.

A large body of recent research has suggested that consuming cholesterol in the diet, such as by eating eggs, is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Research has suggested that elevated levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the blood are associated with negative health effects, including cardiovascular disease. However, some studies have indicated that eating eggs does not significantly impact cholesterol levels in most people.

In fact, some studies have found that even though consuming eggs on a daily basis may lead to marginal increases in LDL, it also increases HDL. This means that the total cholesterol to HDL ratio, an important predictor of heart disease, remains steady.

In the past, healthcare professionals advised people to limit the number of eggs or egg yolks they ate to no more than three per week. The rationale behind this recommendation was that egg yolks are high in cholesterol.

Early researchers misunderstood the data and mistakenly concluded that dietary cholesterol directly contributed to raised blood cholesterol levels. Later researchers found this to be false.

Now, in light of recent evidence, health experts are changing their stances on eggs. In their 2015–2020 publication, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed the recommendation for people to limit their consumption of dietary cholesterol to under 300 milligrams (mg) per day.

A number of recent studies have confirmed that eating eggs as part of a healthy diet does not increase the risk of heart problems.

One of these studies looked at 177,000 people in 50 countries. It found no significant associations between egg intake and cholesterol levels, death rates, or major cardiovascular disease events. The study also found no significant link between how many eggs someone ate and their cholesterol levels.

A 2019 study in the journal Circulation found that eating eggs was not associated with ischemic heart disease. Moreover, the researchers found that substituting red and processed meats with fish, dairy, or eggs was associated with a 20% lower risk of ischemic heart disease.

The American Heart Association (AHA) published a scientific advisory in 2020 that concluded that healthy people could safely eat a whole egg daily. They also approved two eggs daily for healthy older adults because of the overall nutritional benefits and convenience of eggs.

There is a lack of information regarding high egg consumption levels, as research tends to focus on consuming one or two eggs daily.

However, one case study reported that an 88-year-old man ate 25 eggs daily. His cholesterol levels were normal, and he was in good health. Bear in mind that these findings do not demonstrate that eating a large number of eggs per day is healthy for everyone.

Around 25% of people are hyper-responders, or non-compensators. These people have bodies that are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol, and consuming cholesterol-rich foods can significantly impact their blood cholesterol levels.

However, studies show that the LDL to HDL ratio remains steady after cholesterol intake in hyper-responders. This means that even though cholesterol levels may increase in response to dietary cholesterol in hyper-responders, these changes are unlikely to increase heart disease risk.

Also, it is important to note that even though most people can enjoy cholesterol-rich foods, everyone is different. People with certain genetic mutations that affect their cholesterol levels may need to follow a reduced cholesterol diet in order to maintain healthy blood levels.

Overall, it seems that eating eggs is safe for most people. However, as with all foods, people should consume eggs in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

The AHA state that one large egg contains around 186 mg of cholesterol. An article in the journal Nutrition expands on this figure, explaining that eggs may contain 141–234 mg each.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classify eggs by size. Peewee eggs, for example, weigh around 15 ounces (oz) (425 grams [g]) per dozen, whereas jumbo eggs weigh around 30 oz (850 g) per dozen. That is around 1.25 oz (35 g) per peewee egg and 2.5 oz (70 g) per jumbo egg.

The USDA FoodData Central database lists that 3.5 oz (100 g) of whole egg contains 372 mg of cholesterol. Logically, the larger the egg, the more cholesterol it contains.

The database also confirms that egg whites do not contain cholesterol. This means that people who do not want to consume cholesterol in eggs can still add egg whites to their diet.

Some people may want to replace eggs with substitutes in their baking and cooking, perhaps because they follow a vegan diet or have an egg allergy or intolerance.

The sections below will describe some alternatives.

Cholesterol-free egg substitutes

This commercial, processed preparation usually comes in cartons and resembles beaten eggs. Because it usually contains egg whites, it is not suitable for vegans.

These substitute products also tend to contain either natural or artificial colorings and flavorings, plus thickeners, such as xanthan and guar gum.

Egg whites

For non-vegans, egg whites can substitute whole eggs. There are dried, commercial versions available, or people can use fresh egg whites after removing the yolk.

Homemade substitutes

For vegans and those who would prefer to use a homemade egg substitute, there are various options available.

For example, a person can use tofu in quiches or “scrambled eggs,” bananas work well in sweet, baked products, and ground flaxseed can act as a thickener in place of eggs.

Historically, people have debated whether the cholesterol in eggs leads to unhealthy consequences.

However, a large body of recent research has suggested that a healthy diet can include eggs. For most people, eggs will not have an impact on their blood cholesterol levels or overall health.

People who do not want to include eggs in their diet can use a range of egg alternatives. These include egg white substitutes, whole egg substitutes, and vegan options.

Preclinical Study Shows Safety, Efficacy, and Durability of Lowering LDL-Cholesterol Levels Long-Term in Non-Human Primates – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Preclinical Study Shows Safety, Efficacy, and Durability of Lowering LDL-Cholesterol Levels Long-Term in Non-Human Primates

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Precision’s one-time gene editing treatment lowers cholesterol in monkeys for 3 years – FierceBiotech

Precision BioSciences was founded in 2006 to develop a genome editing technology that uses homing nucleases to make precise edits in DNA. Now, the company has preclinical evidence showing that the approach—designed as a one-time treatment—holds promise for treating familial hypercholesterolemia, high cholesterol that’s caused by abnormalities in the gene PCSK9.

A single dose of Precision’s treatment reduced the expression of PCSK9, resulting in a stable lowering of LDL cholesterol in nonhuman primates for three years, according to a study led by the University of Pennsylvania and published in the journal Molecular Therapy. The treatment reduced PCSK9 protein levels by 85% and LDL cholesterol levels by 56%.

Precision is developing the technique, called ARCUS nuclease gene editing, as an alternative to drug treatments for familial hypercholesterolemia, including Amgen’s Repatha as well as Sanofi and Regeneron’s Praluent.

“These results not only contribute to the growing evidence of gene editing for potential therapeutic use, but specifically showed that ARCUS nuclease gene editing could be a very promising new approach leading to treatments for heart disease patients that do not tolerate commonly used PCSK9 inhibitors,” said lead author James Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., a professor and director of the Penn Gene Therapy Program and the Penn Orphan Disease Center, in a statement.

RELATED: JPM: Verve Therapeutics unveils its lead program—a one-and-done treatment for genetic high cholesterol

Precision’s ARCUS uses nucleases that are designed to either insert, delete or fix specific sequences of DNA. The company’s lead program is an off-the-shelf CAR-T for leukemia and lymphoma that’s partnered with Servier and currently in clinical trials.

In November, Precision inked another deal, with Eli Lilly, which handed the company $100 million upfront to develop in vivo gene therapies for three targets, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Lilly also pumped a $35 million investment into Precision and vowed up to $420 million in development and commercialization milestone payments.

Precision does have some competition in the cholesterol arena. At the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference, two-year-old Verve Therapeutics revealed that its lead program is a base editor that blocks the PCSK9 gene. It’s also a one-time treatment, designed to change just one base in the genome.

Verve reported last June that in monkeys, the treatment prompted an 89% drop in PCSK9 and a 59% lowering of LDL cholesterol in two weeks. The company is now following the animals to determine the long-term efficacy of the treatment.

Precision also plans to continue its monitoring of the nonhuman primates in its trial in the hopes of gaining insights into its other ARCUS programs. Chief Scientific Officer Derek Jantz, Ph.D., said the three-year results of the cholesterol study provide hope gene editing could be a viable long-term solution to familial hypercholesterolemia.

“At more than three years out, we are seeing a stable gene edit that is being inherited by subsequent generations of hepatocytes, and evidence thus far supports that this is a permanent change,” Jantz said.

Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and What to Do About It | University of Michigan – Michigan Medicine

It’s hard to keep up with all of the headlines about what to eat, what supplements to take, and when medication should be considered to keep your heart healthy. Your cells need cholesterol to function, but too much and you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Where do you even start?

Luckily, Eric J. Brandt, M.D., a cardiologist and lipidologist, joined us recently to share his approach to managing cholesterol.

“What we focus on are treating diseases that are genetic or lifestyle mediated,” says Brandt. “We bring a very specific lenses and toolkit to trying to use specific medications to manage those disorders.”

Like Podcasts? Add the Michigan Medicine News Break on iTunes, Google Podcast or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

In a recent Facebook live video, featured above, Brandt explains it all: from good and bad cholesterol to the health risks of high cholesterol and advice on ways to lower it, to lifestyle changes, medications and alternative treatments that can be used.

Don’t have time to watch the whole video? Jump to sections you’re most interested in learning more about:

VLDL cholesterol: Risks, healthy levels, treatment, and more – Medical News Today

VLDL cholesterol stands for very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It is a type of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which people sometimes call “bad” cholesterol.

The body needs some VLDL to work properly. However, too much can increase a person’s risk of developing other health conditions, including heart disease.

This article will explain what VLDL is, what it does, and how to keep the levels within a healthy range.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that the body needs to keep the cells and organs healthy. The liver makes all the cholesterol that the body needs. However, it is also present in many foods, including:

There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). People often refer to LDL as “bad” cholesterol and HDL as “good” cholesterol.

LDL takes cholesterol and fats to the body’s cells. HDL takes excess cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body, but it can only do so much.

What is VLDL?

VLDL is a type of lipoprotein cholesterol that the liver makes. Specifically, VLDL is a type of LDL cholesterol. However, while VLDL carries triglycerides, a type of fat, to the body’s cells and tissues, LDL carries mainly cholesterol.

If the body has more VLDL than it needs, the surplus circulates in the blood, contributing to the buildup of plaque.

Plaque is a fatty, sticky substance comprising fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other materials in the blood. Over time, it sticks to the inside of the arteries and then hardens, making them narrower. The term for this process is atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis stops the blood from being able to flow freely around the body. Every cell needs a ready supply of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to survive.

Therefore, high levels of VLDL can contribute to atherosclerosis, which can make a person more susceptible to heart disease or stroke.

Having too many triglycerides, which are the fats that VLDL carries, can also increase a person’s risk of developing non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease.

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), a normal VLDL level is anything up to 30 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), which equates to 0.77 millimoles per liter (mmol/l).

Measurements above this indicate high VLDL levels, which place the person at risk of heart disease and stroke.

Doctors can check VLDL levels as part of a test called a lipid profile. This blood test looks at the fats and the fat-like substances, or lipids, in the blood.

It does not measure VLDL directly. Instead, it looks at the levels of triglycerides in the blood. Most of these triglycerides will be in the VLDL, which carries them to the cells.

The test may report triglyceride values in mg/dl or mmol/l. Healthcare professionals estimate VLDL by dividing the triglyceride value by five, if the measurement is in mg/dl, or by 2.2 if it is in mmol/l.

A lipid profile will also measure:

  • total cholesterol
  • HDL
  • LDL

According to the AACC, it is standard practice to ask people to fast for 9­–12 hours before the test. During this period, they should not eat anything and only drink water. However, doctors may sometimes decide that this is not necessary.

People should also avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours beforehand.

Many people will be able to lower their bad cholesterol by altering everyday habits. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), doctors might recommend:

A cardiac diet

Adopting a heart healthy diet means avoiding foods that contain saturated and trans fats. These foods include:

Instead, people should opt for a diet that includes:

Learn more about how to adopt a cardiac diet here.


Being physically active increases the amount of HDL, or good cholesterol, in the body. The more HDL the body has, the more effectively it can remove VLDL from the blood.

The AHA say that people should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise — such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling — each week, where possible.

Quitting smoking, if applicable

Smoking lowers the levels of good cholesterol in the blood.

It also increases the likelihood of a person developing high blood pressure or diabetes, both of which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Reaching or maintaining a moderate weight

The AHA state that if someone has overweight or obesity, they are more likely to have high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol.

However, they note that losing just 5–10% of body weight can help a person with overweight or obesity improve their cholesterol levels.

Reaching or maintaining a moderate weight also reduces the risk of other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.

Taking certain medications

Some people may find that changes to their diet and physical activity levels are not enough to manage their cholesterol levels.

In these cases, doctors may recommend medication. The right approach will be different for everyone. Healthcare professionals will work with the individual to determine which medication or combination of medications is best for them.

Examples of medications that doctors may recommend include:

  • Statins: This medication works by stopping the liver from making cholesterol.
  • Ezetimibe (Zetia): This medication stops the intestine from absorbing cholesterol from food.
  • Bile acid sequestrants: These prompt the intestine to remove more cholesterol than it would otherwise.
  • PCSK9 inhibitors: This medication stops a protein that the liver uses to make cholesterol from working properly.
  • Fibrates: Fibrates lower the levels of triglyceride in the blood.
  • Nicotinic acid: This medication limits the amount of fat that the liver can make.

Doctors may also recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as cod liver oil. These can help lower triglyceride levels in the blood.

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so people with high VLDL levels will be unaware unless they have a lipid profile test.

Most adults should have a regular medical exam every 4–6 years. Doctors will be able to assess the person’s underlying risk of heart disease by looking at multiple factors. As part of the health evaluation, they will carry out a lipid profile test to check the person’s cholesterol levels.

VLDL is a type of bad cholesterol that can contribute to the risk of heart attack and stroke. Adopting a heart healthy diet, doing more physical activity, refraining from smoking, and maintaining a moderate weight are the best ways to manage cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol does not have any symptoms. The only way that people can be sure of their cholesterol levels is to ask a doctor for a lipid profile test. Most adults should ideally have this test every 4–6 years.

How healthy lifestyle behaviours can improve cholesterol profiles – EurekAlert

Combining healthy lifestyle interventions reduces heart disease through beneficial effects on different lipoproteins and associated cholesterols, according to a study published February 9 in eLife.

Having a healthy lifestyle has long been associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease. The new study provides more detailed information on how healthy lifestyles improve cholesterol, and suggests that combining cholesterol-lowering medications and lifestyle interventions may yield the greatest benefits to heart health.

Cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins help reduce heart risks by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol. Healthy lifestyle interventions, including exercising regularly, having a healthy diet, lowering alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight, have also been shown to lower LDL as well as increase “healthy” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

“Until now, no studies have compared the lipid-lowering effects of cholesterol-lowering medications and healthy lifestyle interventions side by side,” says lead author Jiahui Si, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, US.

To address this gap, Si and colleagues used a technique called targeted nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure 61 different lipid markers in blood samples from 4,681 participants in the China Kadoorie Biobank, including cases of stroke, coronary heart disease and healthy individuals. They studied lipid markers in the blood of participants who had multiple healthy lifestyle habits and compared them to those of participants with less healthy habits. They found 50 lipid markers associated with a healthy lifestyle.

When the team looked at a subset of 927 individuals who had coronary heart disease in the next 10 years and 1,513 healthy individuals, they found 35 lipid markers that showed statistically significant mediation effects in the pathway from healthy lifestyles to the reduction of heart disease. Together, the combined beneficial effects of the lipid changes associated with healthy lifestyle practices were linked to a 14% reduced risk of heart disease. Specifically, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and HDL levels in the blood were linked to the heart-protecting benefits of healthy lifestyles.

“Using a genetic scoring technique, we could compare the effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs with that of lifestyle side by side in the study participants,” says co-senior author Liming Liang, Associate Professor of Statistical Genetics in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Our analysis confirmed that cholesterol-lowering drugs would have the expected effect in lowering LDL cholesterol, but this is much weaker compared to the effect of healthy behaviours on VLDL cholesterol which also increases the risk of heart disease.”

Overall, they found that taking cholesterol-lowering medications and engaging in multiple healthy lifestyles would likely help individuals to achieve the greatest heart-protecting benefits because of the complementary effects of the drugs and healthy behaviours.

“Lifestyle interventions and lipid-lowering medications may affect different components of the lipid profile, suggesting they are not redundant strategies but could be combined for improved benefits,” concludes co-senior author Jun Lv, Professor at the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China.


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About eLife

eLife is a non-profit organisation created by funders and led by researchers. Our mission is to accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours. We aim to publish work of the highest standards and importance in all areas of biology and medicine, including Epidemiology and Global Health, and Genetics and Genomics, while exploring creative new ways to improve how research is assessed and published. eLife receives financial support and strategic guidance from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Max Planck Society and Wellcome. Learn more at

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Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Coffee and cholesterol: Risk, benefits, and more – Medical News Today

Studies have identified a risk of coffee raising a person’s serum cholesterol levels, although it may depend on the brewing method. Unfiltered coffee and French press coffee may raise cholesterol levels, while instant coffee and filter coffee are less likely to affect them.

The risk of heightened serum cholesterol levels also depends on how much coffee a person drinks and how sensitive they are to caffeine.

Keep reading to learn more about how coffee can affect serum cholesterol levels, the risks and benefits associated with drinking coffee, and tips on lowering cholesterol levels.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the results on the association between coffee drinking and higher levels of serum cholesterol are mixed.

However, according to a 1997 study, it is not the amount of caffeine in coffee that may affect cholesterol levels but rather the oils that naturally occur in the coffee bean. These natural oils, also known as diterpenes, are cafestol and kahweol.

The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) also concur that both oils can raise cholesterol levels, although the amount of diterpenes in coffee varies with the brewing method.

For example, if a person makes a coffee using paper filters, then most of the diterpenes remain in the filter. However, in unfiltered coffee, more of the diterpenes pass through into the coffee.

Also, Scandinavian boiled coffee, Turkish coffee, and French press coffee can increase cholesterol, according to another study. Scandinavian and Turkish coffee are unfiltered, while coffee made with a French press passes through a metal filter that allows more of the diterpenes to pass into the brew than paper filters.

According to ISIC, other types of brewed coffee contain different levels of diterpenes and therefore have various effects on cholesterol levels:

  • Espresso: This type of coffee has about half the amount of the diterpenes found in unfiltered coffee. Because people generally drink small servings of espresso, it will likely have little effect on cholesterol.
  • Filtered coffee: It likely has little effect on cholesterol. However, research on this type of coffee is not consistent.
  • Instant coffee: This coffee type contains very little diterpenes, so it should not raise cholesterol.

In addition to potentially raising a person’s cholesterol levels, coffee may carry some other health risks. The content of caffeine, which is a psychoactive substance naturally occurring in coffee, may interact with a person’s medications.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report that 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is typically safe for health, caffeine may cause various clinically significant pharmacokinetic interactions with many drugs.

Other beverages, such as energy drinks, also have high levels of caffeine.

Risks from drug interactions

A 2020 study found that coffee can interact with many drugs due to its caffeine content. A person may wish to consult their doctor to see whether any of their medications are in that category.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn against mixing a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee, with alcohol. The combination may result in a person drinking more alcohol than they realize and thus experiencing more of its harmful effects.

Risks from caffeine

The amount of caffeine considered safe by the FDA is equivalent to four or five cups of coffee. However, some individuals are more sensitive to the effect of caffeine and may experience some of the following:

Other sources of caffeine

Other beverages containing caffeine include tea, sodas, and energy drinks. Tea and sodas generally have less caffeine than coffee, while some energy drink brands may have two to three times the amount of caffeine in a coffee drink, according to the FDA.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), coffee has several benefits, including:

In addition, the AHA note that caffeine may also:

  • increase energy
  • help with weight loss
  • improve mental focus
  • elevate mood
  • improve exercise performance

Although cafestol and kahweol can have a negative effect on cholesterol, they may also provide some health benefits. Research suggests they may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that promotes health when its levels in the body are healthy. When cholesterol levels are too high, the fat builds up in the arteries. Once the fat accumulates enough to obstruct blood flow, it is dangerous, as it can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Types of fats in the blood include:

  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, which plays a key role in fat buildup in the arteries
  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, which helps remove cholesterol from the body

While coffee does not contain cholesterol, it can affect cholesterol levels. The diterpenes in coffee suppress the body’s production of substances involved in cholesterol breakdown, which causes cholesterol to increase. Specifically, coffee diterpenes may cause an increase in total cholesterol and LDL levels.

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes may help lower cholesterol. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) advise the following:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet: This diet includes eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with nuts, olive oil, and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids. The diet also involves limiting intake of saturated and trans fat, such as fatty cuts of meat and packaged snacks.
  • Get regular exercise: Studies show regular exercise raises HDL and lowers LDL.
  • Quit smoking: This habit is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Maintain a moderate weight: If a person carries more body weight or has obesity, then losing 3–5% of their overall weight can increase HDL and lower their LDL.
  • Try to manage stress: Research suggests stress has a harmful effect on cholesterol.

People with high cholesterol should consult their doctor to check whether they need medication, as various drugs can lower cholesterol levels.

However, some people may take a medication or have a condition that is causing the cholesterol problem. In those cases, a person’s doctor may change the prescription drug or suggest a different treatment.

The relationship between coffee and cholesterol may depend on how a person brews the beverage. Paper filters may help minimize the amount of natural oils and result in a coffee drink with less effect on cholesterol.

People who have high cholesterol may wish to avoid drinking unfiltered brews, such as Turkish coffee. Without a paper filter, more of the cholesterol-raising oils end up in the coffee.

Heart-healthy foods to lower your cholesterol – KSAT San Antonio

Getting high cholesterol under control can seem like a big challenge, but there are simple steps you can take to reduce it.

Countless studies have shown that diet plays a significant role when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels.

When your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is high, it causes plaque to build up in the arteries. The buildup contributes to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

When you add cholesterol-lowering foods to your daily regimen, you reduce the chance of getting serious health conditions.

The human body already makes most of the cholesterol it needs, and the remainder of it comes from consuming food. Cholesterol is a steroid lipid fat found in your blood that helps cell membranes function properly. However, when you eat high-cholesterol foods, too much fat (hyperlipidemia) develops, resulting in higher cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol does not have to be a lifelong problem. It can be regulated and even reduced. By changing your lifestyle habits and making good food choices, you improve the chances of living a healthier life. When you raise the HDL (good fat) and reduce the LDL (bad fat), you reduce heart disease risk.

Here are some heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your daily meals:


Legumes are ideal for lowering cholesterol naturally. They are a group of plant foods high in soluble fiber, low in glycemic index, and they contain minerals and protein. Their low glycemic index helps in lowering blood sugar. Legumes also release less insulin after eating them. Besides the other plant nutrients in legumes, they contain potassium and magnesium, two essential nutrients that lower blood sugar.

An avocado a day

Avocados are considered a heart-healthy fat food that is exceptionally nutrient-dense with no cholesterol in them. They are a source of monounsaturated fat, which is the healthy fat for reducing cholesterol. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and they’re high in fiber. The compounds in them help block the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Studies indicate that eating an avocado a day helps to lower LDL levels.

Go nuts over nuts

Nuts are an excellent healthy food choice because they provide nutrients and phytosterols.

Phytosterols are similar in structure to cholesterol and found in plant cell membranes. Nuts are healthy monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines. Nuts and some seeds are a good source of protein. When you consume nuts, you improve your blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

Beneficial fatty fish

Fatty fish is a heart-healthy food and an excellent choice for reducing cholesterol. It is a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that increases HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to lowering inflammation and the risk of stroke and heart disease. Fatty fish also lowers triglycerides, another type of fat found in the bloodstream. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines, and halibut are great fish choices for getting cholesterol under control.

Natural whole grains

Eliminating refined flour and replacing it with whole grains in your diet helps to lower cholesterol. By eating whole grains, you reduce the risk of diabetes and gain better control over your weight. You also benefit from the rich fiber, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains keep parts of the grain in their natural state with the outer shell, the germ that’s full of nutrients, and the endosperm, the bulk of the grain.

Fiber-rich fruits

Fruits are another heart-healthy choice for helping to lower cholesterol. Fruits like apples, grapes, strawberries, pears, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, are rich in the soluble fiber pectin. Fiber is a necessary component for lowering cholesterol because it prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

The final word

There are plenty of great-tasting food choices loaded with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber for reducing high cholesterol. With all the great selections, you will never feel hungry or deprived.

When you incorporate heart-healthy meals into your daily routine, your diet is more balanced, and lowering high cholesterol is significantly improved.