Statins, Leg Pain and Cholesterol: Foodie Alternatives

Topics: High Cholesterol, Wellness and Health

The March 19 2010FDA Warning about Zocor, a statin medication causing myopathy, and rare rhabdomyolysis, makes me think about other ways people who love food can lower their cholesterol too.

The simple story is this: eating food with cholesterol in it doesn’t raise your cholesterol level, very much. It’s foods (red meat, cheese) with solid fats (saturated and trans) and for some people, highly processed foods with starches and sugars.

The NY Times’ Tara Parker Pope‘s smart “Eating Your Way to Lower Cholesterol” has great tips (see #24 and #61) as does the WSJ’s Tom Burton’s now famous “A Reporter Eats His Way to Lower Cholesterol.”

The foodie story? Foods rich in soluble fiber (barley, oats, beans, lentils) lower LDL cholesterol: up to 50 grams daily has an effect: beyond that, not.
Flax meal has an important effect: up to 2 tablespoons twice daily. Omega-3 fatty acids raise HDL (healthy cholesterol), as does alcohol–one drink for women, and two for men.

Eat an ounce and a half of nuts daily instead of carbs like crackers/chips. Try stanol/sterol margarines instead of butter and sour cream. Add green or black tea. Consider cinnamon.

In the supplement world, look at lecithin and psyllium.

None of these cause leg pain, cost hundreds of dollars per month, or necessitate remembering to take your pills. And they can taste much better!