The Importance of Plant Sterols for Healthy Cholesterol – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 191
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
We’ve all heard the impact that high cholesterol can have on our overall health and how it can put us at a greater risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death within the United States. We have to understand what high cholesterol is, when it becomes problematic, and the difference between elevated levels of VLDL, LDL, and HDL. When we look at American society as a whole, we know that well over 30% of the population has high cholesterol. We also recognize that it has been directly linked to being a major indication for cardiovascular events later on in life.
A recent study released by the University of Maryland School of Medicine discusses how having high cholesterol levels early in life can lead to heart problems by middle age. Having high cholesterol in your teen years or in your early 20s increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac event during the middle ages.
Good vs. bad cholesterol
We need to have cholesterol in our bodies. We need it as part of our brain chemistry. The absence of good cholesterol can lead to cognitive decline, as well as an increase in risk for a cardiovascular event. We want to take care of and maintain our good cholesterol because it is actually cardioprotective. LDL, which is your low-density lipoproteins, is the so-called “bad” cholesterol. An LDL level of over 100mg/dL is generally considered elevated. When someone has elevated LDL, this can really be an indication of extensive damage that is occurring that can’t even be seen or recognized. That’s why lowering your cholesterol can really reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
Why Food and Supplementation Matters
Oftentimes, people turn to pharmacotherapies to treat cholesterol issues. This includes statin drugs and other medications that are used to try to regulate someone’s cholesterol. Certainly, there are times where statin drugs are warranted in certain situations, and certain types of statins may be better for some patients than other types of statins. A lot of our problem when it comes to endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular risk comes down to our diet.
A single-blind trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association tested the impacts of an improved diet on people with elevated cholesterol. These patients also had elevations in different markers for inflammation, so they kind of fell into the category of metabolic syndrome. The subjects followed a Mediterranean diet and received detailed advice from the researchers as to how to increase their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables and how to include olive oil into their routines. This helped them reduce their intake of bad carbohydrates and bad fats. The researchers found that after 2 years, patients who followed the Mediterranean-style diet did significantly better in terms of their overall levels when it came to blood sugar, total cholesterol, and inflammation markers. This is why foods do matter.
You can also help your body in terms of supplementation. We know that high-antioxidant nutrients, like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, are helpful. But we can also look at sterols. Plant sterols have been around for a really long time and really can promote a significant amount of support when it comes to the way that the body manages cholesterol transport. This is why having a diet that is high in plant sterols really yields a significant amount of advantageous benefits to the way that your body is reacting to those elevations or fluctuations. Taking plant sterols as a supplement can also really yield you that benefit. InVite® Health Sterols is a really wonderful product to have as part of your cholesterol-targeting arsenal. Tune into the full podcast episode for studies looking at the impacts of plant sterols on cholesterol levels. There’s a lot of things that people can be doing on their own to optimize their overall cardiovascular health, but it starts with the choices that you make. Always keep that in mind.
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Questions about how plant sterols can benefit your heart health? Leave us a comment below to discuss!