Atkins Diet and Cholesterol Medication

Heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States and its numbers are expected to grow in the coming years due to the dramatic rise in obesity in recent years.  One of the primary causes of coronary heart disease is high cholesterol levels which lead to the formation of fatty plaques that will cling to one another and form blockages in the arteries.  When these blockages become severe enough, a heart attack occurs�death is probable unless treatment is received immediately.  To avoid this scenario, millions of Americans take high cholesterol medication and eat highly restrictive diets.  But for people on the Atkins diet, cholesterol medication may not be necessary.

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Although the Atkins diet does not significantly reduce your bad cholesterol levels ( known as LDL).  Then again, neither do most of the low-fat diets.  However, the good cholesterol (known as HDL) levels do rise quite a bit when people practice the Atkins diet and they also see their triglyceride (fats) levels decrease by almost half. 

The combined effect of raising HDL levels while significantly reducing triglyceride levels reduces the need for high cholesterol medication.  However, it is not known at this time whether those cholesterol medication may be needed in the future because no long-term, longitudinal studies have been conducted on the Atkins diet.  In twelve-month studies, however, use of the Atkins diet has lead to sustained weight loss and a reduction of high cholesterol. 

Still, high cholesterol should remain a source of constant concern even for those on the Atkins diet.  It is not a bad idea to continually monitor cholesterol levels for the first year or so after beginning the Atkins diet, especially if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol.  Do not be surprised if the levels reduce to the point that your cholesterol medication is no longer necessary. 

High cholesterol levels can be further reduced while on the Atkins diet by being very selective in the carbohydrates you choose to reintroduce once the Induction phase is over.  By adding in foods that are low in carbs but rich in antioxidants, you will reduce your chances for coronary artery disease.  Anitoxidants have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by neutralizing free radicals that make it easier for fatty plaques to attach to your arterial walls (and lead to blockages).

High cholesterol medication is a great and necessary short term solution to what could become a huge problem in the future.  However, a long term solution including a healthy diet that negates the need for high cholesterol medication is even better.  Although the Atkins diet has been proven to reduce high cholesterol levels in those who stayed on the diet for a year or more, you will still want to consult with your physician before starting any new regimen as unforeseen side effects are always a possibility.

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