High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Despite having strong ties with heart disease, cholesterol is indispensable to our health. The molecule is a key to the production of cell membranes and many other hormones. While the majority of the molecules come from dietary intake, a string of scientific findings has raised concern about the effects of retinoid creams on lipids. One particular ointment has been shown to raise bad cholesterol levels by as much as 15 percent, and triglycerides by a staggering 144 percent.
There is a weighty body of evidence suggesting that vitamin A – the active ingredient in retinoids – can alter the metabolism of lipids.
What’s more, research suggests these changes to lipids may also increase cardiovascular disease risk.
“Retinoids include the natural compound vitamin A (retinol) and the synthetic derivatives of retinoic acid,” notes the health platform Medscape.
The topical treatment has flooded the market in recent years for its beautifying effects, helping reverse signs of ageing and blemishes.
READ MORE: High cholesterol: One warning sign is ‘especially’ noticeable at night – it’s in the toes
It is used by many to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen.
“They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin colour,” explains Harvard Health.
Retinoids comprise a broad spectrum of products, but the most powerful is isotretinoin – taken by some to prevent acne.
An entry on the health website Medscape reads: “Whereas there are insufficient data to conclude whether vitamin A affects lipid levels, iso-tretinoin, a well-established therapy for acne vulgaris, increases total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol by about 15 percent.”
“Reported effects on HDL-cholesterol levels are less consistent; nonsignificant effects and decreases have been reported.
“The most pronounced effects, however, are on triglyceride levels, with increases ranging from 35 to 144 percent.”
Medscape also points attention to acitretin – a common treatment used for therapy-resistant psoriasis – for its lipid-altering effects.
The body explains this treatment, too, has the ability to increase triglyceride levels.
Acitretin has no known effect on total and HDL cholesterol levels, but it does, however, increase triglyceride levels by 60 percent.
What are triglycerides?Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the bloodstream and are generally broken down from the fats found in diet.
Similarly to LDL cholesterol particles, triglycerides contribute to the hardening or thickening of arteries.
This, in turn, may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and head disease.
“Extremely high triglycerides can also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas,” notes the Mayo Clinic.
The lipids generally provide the body with fuel, but excess may be deposited in fat tissue.
Fortunately, making appropriate dietary amendments can help significantly lower levels.
Food that contains omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, has been found to be very powerful in reducing lipids.
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