A New Conversation About Cholesterol

Health Update - Dr. Jeffery Stewart

Statin therapy is facing a moderate sized paradigm shift socially amongst patients and a real clinical shift amongst physicians.

Statins are medicines used to lower cholesterol levels. A new consensus statement for cholesterol management emerged in 2013. Without boring you I’ll summarize; treatment goals for statin therapy were lowered. Most notably treatment goals for LDL levels were no longer recommended as routine monitoring. This has led to lowering the intensity of therapy and subsequently doses of statin drugs, hence decreasing the occurrence of side effects, improving patient satisfaction and quality of life.

As a result, your office visit is now less likely to be burdened with a review of your “LDL progress” and instead a more targeted discussion of your diet. If we rely less on statin therapy we have to focus more on lifestyle changes to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease. There is a growing emphasis on a more natural dietary approach to your health, not so much in what you shouldn’t eat, but what you should be eating. I introduce to you vegetables, fruits, and nuts. I’m not saying become a vegetarian, but I want you to pretend to be one, two to three meals a week. Do so and you will be joining a not so silent 40% of Americans that have been slowly decreasing their meat intake since 2012.

New dietary key recommendations have been published replacing the seventies pyramid of nutrition. I invite you to visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce risk for chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.

So, as we ring in a new year full of promise and hope, I encourage each of us to adopt a new emphasis on dietary choices as a means to better health. Let’s start giving our bodies healthier building blocks to promote health and to fight disease.