Since the treatment for inherited high cholesterol is to reduce inflammation and prevent the accumulation of LDL cholesterol in the blood, it’s probably smart for patients with FH to avoid excess amounts of saturated fat, says Amy Reisenberg, MS, RDN, who works with heart patients at Stanford University Hospital.
Eat more anti-inflammatory foods. Heart disease is caused by inflammation within our arteries and some foods contain substances that can calm things down. Known anti-inflammatory foods include whole fruit, vegetables, garlic and tea. Fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are also high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Reisenberg advises her patients to eat 3 to 4 ounces of fish at least twice a week.
Have some nuts. They provide a good amount of healthful fats that do not promote the rise of LDL cholesterol. Yet they are also low in the more harmful saturated fats. Those that are lowest in saturated fat include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans and peanuts. Some nuts are higher in saturated fat, however. We are called to eat these less often or in smaller amounts: Brazil nuts, macadamias (darn it) and cashews.
It’s true we can’t change what we inherit. But as a wise person once told me, “Genetics loads the gun; lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian. Email her at [email protected].
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