Improving HDL cholesterol with Niacin

Niacin and HDL cholesterol

Niacin or otherwise known as vitamin B3 is a vital vitamin for the human body, one of the 5vitamins that will create a pandemic deficiency disease if you have a chronic shortage of, the other 4 are vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Thiamin. Niacin has been used to control HDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol for many decades and is up to this point the safest and most effective supplement that is available for the public to improve HDL cholesterol levels.

However to improve your HDL cholesterol you will require a fairly significant amount of Niacin, which would create a few side effects, while normal side effects should not be dangerous, niacin can have a possible interactions when used with other medications. More info on this can be found on this page from the University of Maryland, medical center.

Note that while mainly used for HDL cholesterol, niacin will also improve your LDL cholesterol levels.

A few potential side effects of supplementation :
Flushed Skin
Rapid heartbeat
Vomiting and nausea
Liver Damage

Note : some of them can be avoided by starting with a low dose and gradually increasing the dose.

However some benefit may be gained from adding food with a high amount of niacin content to your diet, research shows that people with a high niacin intake trough their diet have a few potential benefits such as:

Reduced change at Alzheimer’s disease, supplements where not tested for this but studies indicate that people with high niacin intake may have a lower risk at developing this disease.

Less change at developing cataracts:  one study has shown a reduced change at developing cataracts with high dietary niacin intake.

Niacin is a vitamin that the body uses to effectively use Carbohydrates as energy and will also keep your skin, hair, eyes, nervous system and a few other systems healthy along the way. Used as a treatment for HDL cholesterol and to reduce LDL cholesterol it is a more effective supplement than most medicine with less side effects. This little vitamin can be purchased easily and cheap in most countries around the world as over the counter supplements. However before you take this do consult your doctor first due to the potential side effects of a high dose which is required to improve HDL cholesterol.

 While HDL cholesterol improvement is always a good thing, some of the side effects or effects with other medication may be a issue for you. Despite all this it’s worth noting that it’s a cheaper, more effective supplementation then statin medication and in all regards safer to.

Symptoms of a mild Niacin deficiency are
Reduced tolerance to cold due to a slower metabolism

Severe deficiency can cause :
High sensitivity to sunlight
And a ton of others nasty effects

here is a intresting study on the effect of Niacin on HDL cholesterol.

in this study they tested the effect of Niacin on HDL cholesterol levels on cultured human hepatocytes(hepG2). Hepatocytes are a cell in the main tissue of the liver and make up the majority of the livers mass.

The results was that Niacin increased the lipidation of apolipoprotein A-I (the main protein component of HDL cholesterol)by phospholipids and cholesterol.

At the dose of 0.5 and 1.0 mmo/L increased the apoA-I associated 3H-phospholipids by 10% and 46% respectibely and apoA-I associated 3H-cholesterol by 5% and 23% (hdl cholesterol)

Benefits of walnuts to cholesterol

Walnut and cholesterol

Walnuts seeds are a very dense source of nutrition and renowned for its fatty acid content,
the English walnut or a hybrid from the English walnut is currently the most commonly grown walnut for commercial use but despite its name this walnut actually originated from Persia not England.
Currently china is by far the largest producer of Walnut seeds but The united States are its largest exporter most of which are grown in California.

The walnut is a great nut to eat due to its nutritional values and potential health benefits, walnuts are largely composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids unlike most other nuts and contains a big amount of ALA (omega3).

Some of the benefits of Walnuts include:

Improves the body use of fat over carbohydrates as fuel in overweight adults.
Walnuts improves sperm quality in young and healthy men.
Contain the highest amount of anti-oxidants of any nuts
Potential to lower blood cholesterol levels
Good for the heart
Good for HDL cholesterol
Improved sleep
Reduced LDL cholesterol
Reduce the change at diabetes
Possible protection against Alzheimer, breast cancer and prostate cancer

Considered to be by many as the king of the nuts, there are several kinds of walnuts, the most commonly used English walnut or hybrids from the English walnut but you also have the black walnut
The black walnut originally from north America is a nut that has significant different nutritional values as the regular English walnut for example the omega 3 content of black walnuts are significantly lower than the English walnuts while containing more arginine and selenium. Both are very effective at reducing cholesterol levels but the English walnuts tend to be cheaper to buy.

Interesting note : Walnuts has been known by the Romans to be a sex medicine, enhancing the desire and fertility.

Here are a few studies worth showing concerning its effect on cholesterol.

Including walnuts in a low fat/modified-fat diet improved HDL cholesterol in patients that have type 2 diabetes, you can find the link here.

This study has been performed with 3different groups each with a diet containing 30%. Only 1 group included walnuts in its low fat diet the other 2 has the same amount of fat in the diet but did not include walnuts

They were measured 3 months in and 6months in and the blood work showed significant increase in HDL cholesterol to total cholesterol ratio and HDL cholesterol increased in the walnut group compared to the other 2 groups, they also noticed a 10% drop in LDL cholesterol in the walnut group.

Second study can be found here.
A diet rich in walnuts favorably influences plasma fatty acid profile in moderately hyperlimidaemic subjects (high cholesterol patients).

This study was set with 21 men with high total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Where set to consume 2 diets each one lasting a four weeks period, one rich in walnuts and one without. All subjects had to do both four week diets.

Despite a higher intake of fatty acids in the walnut diet, the participants showed a remarkable improvement in both total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol both where lowered after the diet but the walnut diet had a greater effect , the same was true for HDL cholesterol which when up but more with the walnut diet then the other diet when comparing both diets the Apo B was significant lower on the walnut diet.

HDL cholesterol and swimming

The benefits of Swimming:

As one of the most practiced sports in many parts of the world. Swimming offers a wide range of potential benefits to the body, this is also a sport that does not affect the knee in a serious way like many other sports or exercises that are available, avoiding potential issues later in life.
Swimming has the potential to work all the muscles in your body depending on the strokes you use and as such can improve your general strength, but like many sport activities swimming has a great beneficial effect on the HDL cholesterol levels with the added advantage that swimming is fairly easy to get into, unlike for example going to the gym for the first time which is a big step for many people, swimming can be done on your own and you can pretty much start slow and work on your endurance from there on. Swimming is a great way to improve this endurance.

Why should you swim ?
Well swimming has a number of potential health benefits each and every one of them is probably reason enough to get started and keep going.

For example
Improved cholesterol levels
Improved HDL cholesterol
Health benefits to heart and lungs
Because it’s fun ?
is a low impact sport (good for the joints)
is a sport you can practice your entire life(even when your 100years old)
burns calories/improves metabolism
improved immune system
flexibility and muscle strength

to be a little more specific each kind of stroke has its own advantages and here are a few of the more popular styles.

Front crawl(freestyle)
This is often considered to be the fastest of the front primary strokes. This method of strokes has been used since ancient times, but in the western world this method of strokes was first seen in a swimming race held in London 1844. Swum at the time by Native Americans who easily won the race against the British who were using breaststroke. 

The front crawl has a number of benefits:

this kind of strokes is great to tone your gluts, abdominals, shoulders and is the best stroke to improve back strength according to some trainers. And swimming in general is great to improve HDL cholesterol but also has a small effect on total blood cholesterol.

It is a better calorie burner then jogging for those who are good at it, burning up to 600calories for 60minutes. And weight loss in itself is another good way to improve cholesterol levels in the blood.


This is the slowest of the four official styles and considered to be by far the most difficult stroke to do right in terms of technique, due to timing and technique this is also the hardest to teach. The history of this technique going back as far as the stone age where pictures have been found in caves depicting swimmers using this technique in southwestern Egypt not far from Wadi Sora. Variants have been found in Babylonian and Assyrian wall drawings to. Books have been written where this style of strokes show up since as early as 1538 where a man called Nicolas Wynman wrote a book containing a good methodical approach to learning this style to avoid drowning.

The breaststroke has a number of distinct advantages again of course it should be noted that like any other style this has a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels as general any kind of activity tends to promote a healthy cholesterol this one is no exception to cholesterol levels in your blood.

benefits to the breast stroke are :
has a tendency to expand the lungs, some woman claim it will increase the size of breasts, and this stroke has an effect on the chest muscles so they might just be right.
Tones the shoulders
Tones the triceps, hamstrings and legs
Works the inner thigh
Minor reduction to cholesterol levels.
HDL cholesterol

This kind of stroke burns less calories than the other strokes with “only” up to 360 calories every 60minutes but it should be that this is a long distance style of swimming and you can generally swim like this far longer than freestyle, great for endurance and less for speed.


Also often called the upside down crawl or back crawl this is one of the styles regulated by FINA. The advantage of this stroke is easy breathing but with the added disadvantage of not seeing where you are going so collision may occur. A very ancient style of swimming this style of swimming has been used in competition since 1900 in the Paris Olympics. The backstroke is very similar to the butterfly in terms of speed. The backstroke has a very specific effect and several benefits to the healthy body,

this kind of stroke is very good the following:
Tones the legs and buttocks
Tones arms and shoulders
Tones the stomach area
Minor reduction to cholesterol levels.
HDL cholesterol
Helps elongate the hip flexors which is a great way to compensate for sitting at a desk all day at work.

This kind of stroke burns up to 480calories every 60minutes if done right, which is more than breaststroke does en less than the freestyle does. Still the effect on cholesterol from movement like this is very good and you should always look for the style you prefer the most to make it easy to keep on swimming.


Last but last of the four primary strokes is the butterfly (no not butterfly effect on cholesterol) but the stroke. The butterfly is one of the more difficult strokes to learn and master, this requires strong muscles and good technique to perform adequately, this technique is the newest swum in competition going back since 1933 and originating out of the breaststroke.

In terms of history this is a very new form of stroke compared to the other three, while there are records found on the other three going as far back as ancient times some from cave drawings, this technique has only been invented by a Australian who lived in 1881 to 1945, his name was Sydney Cavill, moving to America when he followed his brother to San Francisco.

The butterfly technique has several benefits but it is a technique hard to master as a beginner thus while it’s a good technique it may be wise to start with a breaststroke and learn from there,

Benefits :
Minor reduction to cholesterol levels.
HDL cholesterol
Upper body strength.
Tones the chest, abdominals, arms and triceps and back muscles.
Stretches the body and will increase your flexibility.

While it is a stroke that should not really be tried before you master the other three, it should be noted that this is the most intense stroke of the four and will burn up to 900calories every 60minutes, making this by far the best stroke to use for short but intense exercise and is another great way to improve cholesterol levels.

The effect of a long-term swimming program on body composition, blood lipids and aerobic capacity in 14-19 year old girls with diabetes type 1

This study has 2 groups, one group of nineteen girls aging 14-19 with diabetes type 1 and another group of twenty-eight healthy girls aging 14-18.

Before and after the swimming program the weight, height, body mass index, body fat percentage, four skinfold thickness were calculated. Total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides where estimated.

Training sessions where implemented twice a week for fourteen weeks, and the results where :
After fourteen weeks body mass index did not change significantly for both groups but body fat mass was decreased significantly in both healthy and diabetic subjects, there were no significant changes to total cholesterol levels for both groups but HDL was increased significantly in the healthy group by about 9.7 percent.

What does Cacao do to cholesterol levels

Cholesterol levels Cacao

Cacao powder used in the production of chocolate, cacao has been used since ancient history by the Native Americans like Aztecs and Mayans and where introduced to the European shores in the 16th century, first In Spain and later the rest of Europe. Chocolate comes in many forms but only the dark kind is truly made from the beneficial cacao powder where the white chocolate is actually made from cacao butter and has none of the beneficiary effects  that cacao is supposed to have.

Note:  chocolate contains alkaloids that have a psychological effect on humans, but the presence of a alkaloid called Theo bromine also known as xantheose makes chocolate toxic to certain animals like cats and dogs. White chocolate does not contain xantheose so it is not toxic to these animals.
There are several types of chocolate in existence, while one is pure or unsweetened the majority today consumed is sweet chocolate which is chocolate mixed with sugar.

Chocolate is said to provide a whole list of beneficial effects a small list can be found below:

It should be noted that the benefits are only for dark chocolate or cacao powder, cacao butter or white chocolate does not provide these benefits except for the properties this fat might posses due to the monounsaturated content, not all of these potential benefits have been proven and if they work most only work in moderation.
Cacao is rich in flavonoids:  strong anti-oxidant that protects the plant from environmental toxins and help repair damage.
Flavonols are the main kind of flavonoids found in cacao and have been found to have other potential benefits outside the regular flavonoids properties such as an effect on your cardiovascular health, it can help lower your blood pressure if you have a high blood pressure, improve the flow of blood
Cacao is rich in anti-oxidants: which are believed to help resist cell damage and too few anti-oxidants to fight off the oxidants you cause with every single breath or action you take during the day may have a very negative effect on LDL cholesterol.

It should be noted that cacao undergoes a process before it turns into your average bar of chocolate in the store and this process has been known to destroy most of the beneficial effects of cacao depending on how the chocolate was processed. However your best choice to gain asmuch as possible would probably be by looking for pure dark chocolate.

Cacao fat has a benefit on its own that it is made mostly out of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, if you read the low cholesterol page you are aware by now that this kind of fatty acids has a neutral to positive effect on your general health and cholesterol levels. Unfortunately white chocolate bars are often filled with sugar so remember moderation and look for unsweetened kind (if they have any)

But to go further about the effects of cacao on cholesterol and why it might actually be possible to include some(remember moderation) cacao to the diet to improve cholesterol levels, but remember only the dark chocolate really is chocolate.

Fortunately chocolate has been well studied over the years and several studies can show you the effect of cacao on people with normal to high cholesterol.

Plasma LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo and hypercholesterolemic humans after the intake of different levels of cocoa powder.

160 subjects divided in 4 groups
1 group ingested low-polyphenolic compound (placebo group) or 2 levels of cocoa intake either 13g/d for low, 19.5g/d middle or 26 g/d for high cocoa groups. The powders where consumed as a beverage. Twice a day for four weeks.

Samples where collected before the test and 4weeks after intake.
Blood cholesterol levels, plasma oxidized LDL was reduced in the low/middle/high groups compared to baseline.
Reduction of LDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL cholesterol  in the blood was noticed in the low/middle and high groups while HDL increased.

Conclusion: the polyphenolic substances from cocoa powder may contribute to reducing LDL cholesterol and elevation of HDL cholesterol and suppression of oxidized LDL cholesterol.

High cholesterol and omega 3

Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are fats often found in fish and plants. Studies show that humanity probably evolved to live with a omega 3-6 ratio of about 1:1 and in the current western diet this can go up to as high as 1:20 with far too much omega 6 for too little omega 3 causing a serious unbalance in our body since the human body cannot create omega 3 from omega 6. 

It comes to no surprise then that getting more omega 3 to try and correct this unbalance can give a wide range of potential health effects. Especially when eating fish or supplementing omega 3 fish oil to get some much needed EPA DHA and not the far less useful kind ALA which mostly comes from plants and nuts such as walnuts shown below or plantbased oils such as flaxseed oil, unless you are a vegetarian it is far better to use fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil or other kinds of marine based animals oils.

Studies show that it is in the end DHA that matters and to get there ALA has to convert to EPA then to DHA inside the body to do the job, but sadly the body is not able to convert this very well and only a small percentage of the original ALA becomes DHA.

Omega 3 has a wide range of potential health benefits depending on your health and diet but some of these claimed benefits are controversial at best however eating a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids does appear to reduce the risk of getting a stroke but it is possible to increase your LDL cholesterol if you get large amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, those LDL cholesterol will become larger, less dangerous in the process.

The consumption of omega 3 fatty acids may have a blood pressure lowering effect on people with high blood pressure but this has only been shown with the supplementation of EPA DHA and not with ALA(so flaxseed  oil is useless for that and fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil and so on is a better choice if you want that effect).

There is evidence to support that that regular intake of EPA DHA can lower the risk of secondary and primary heart attacks, again this does not work with ALA.

DHA is essential for the gray matter of the brain and normal development of the brains it may then come as no surprise that omega 3 is often used as a alternative way of treating ADHD, fish oil appears to reduce the symptoms in some children and may be a safer alternative then the normal treatment with DCD.
Omega 3 has a very interesting effect on a person his blood cholesterol.

When you look at people with hypertriglyceridemia, translated for a normal person like you or me that means people with high triglycerides often part of High cholesterol. The effect of Omega 3 can be viewed here.

Note:  this study has been done using fish oil not flaxseed oil so high EPA DHA and no ALA.

Reduction of plasma Lipids, lipoproteins and apoproteins by fish oils in patients with hypertriglyceridemia.

20 patients with high cholesterol, 10 of them with type IIB high cholesterol and 10 with type V high cholesterol. They were all put on the same diet, with the main difference between the patients the fatty acids composition and fat content.

The control diet was given a fatty acid mixture of a typical low fat therapeutic diet (ratio 1:4), The fish oil diet contained omega 3 (EPA DHA),The vegetable oil diet was rich in omega 6 fatty acids (LA)
The diet was followed for 4weeks and here are the results between the normal diet, high omega 3 diet and high omega 6 diet.

In the type IIB group the fish oil led to a decrease in both plasma cholesterol by 27% and Tryglicerides (-64%) this was compared to the control group. The VLDL was also reduced. The vegetable oil diet (omega6) had a much smaller effect  compared to the fish oil diet(omega3)

In the type V group the fish oil diet had a even greater effect on plasma cholesterol (-45%) and triglycerides (-79%) and again VLDL was dropped significant to. Where the vegetable oil diet actually increased the triglyceride level by a significant amount.

The conclusion of this study is that fish oil may be very a very beneficial addition for people with a High cholesterol.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been studied for years and they still haven’t figured out if it works or not in some of the claims but it does appear to have a significant effect if you’re a normal person with high cholesterol and could be a very good addition to a low cholesterol diet, despite the fact that fish actually contain some cholesterol themselves.

It should be noted that in most cases omega 3 supplements may be the best way to go because of the pollution most fish contain these days . the wild has toxics that cannot be ignored and the fish the farmed fish is filled with medicine to keep parasites away.

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