Heart attack and stroke are among the top causes of death in the U.S., meaning that having a healthy heart should be among your top priorities. One way to do that is by managing your cholesterol and blood pressure, which can lower your risk of these acute heart episodes and more. Experts say you can achieve this through lifestyle changes, medication, and supplements. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says there’s one popular supplement that should help you slash your LDL cholesterol and lower your blood pressure in one fell swoop. Read on to learn which supplement to take for both benefits, and what else it has to offer your body.
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Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs to build healthy cells. But when you have too much cholesterol in the body, it can cause a buildup of this substance in the lining of the arteries and blood vessels. This can lead to a condition known as atherosclerosis in which the buildup causes arteries to tighten and narrow, restricting blood flow. People who develop atherosclerosis as a result of high cholesterol are likely to also develop high blood pressure, since the body has to work hard to pump blood through the affected arteries.
This can pose a major problem, since having high cholesterol is often asymptomatic. Though 12 percent of the U.S. population has high cholesterol, most people have no idea they have a problem, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
However, your doctor may perform a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. “Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. Some people, such as people who have heart disease or diabetes or who have a family history of high cholesterol, need to get their cholesterol checked more often,” the CDC advises.
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Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure—and in turn having atherosclerosis—can lead to a whole host of heart health complications. Some of the most common ones include heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, or blood clot, experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine warn.
The good news is that reducing your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—often called your “bad” cholesterol—can have a tremendously positive impact on your heart health.
“It’s well established that lowering LDL cholesterol, sometimes regardless of whether or not you have high cholesterol, improves cardiovascular outcomes,” write experts from Harvard Health Publishing. “Lifestyle changes can decrease cholesterol numbers by about 5 percent to 10 percent, while cholesterol-lowering medication can decrease LDL cholesterol by 50 percent or more,” they explain.
While a healthy diet, regular exercise, and cholesterol-lowering medication are all well-known interventions for those with high cholesterol, there’s one that often gets overlooked: whey protein supplements. According to the Mayo Clinic, this particular product is useful for lowering both your “bad” cholesterol and high blood pressure.
“Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy,” the Mayo Clinic writes on its site. “Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure. You can find whey protein powders in health food stores and some grocery stores,” their experts explain.
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Besides promoting good heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, whey protein benefits the body in other ways. A source of high-quality, lean protein, it’s great for preventing age-related muscle loss, managing blood sugar, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.
Elliott Torsney, RDN, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Den of Fitness, tells Best Life that grass-fed whey protein contains all of the most important essential amino acids with less saturated fat. He adds that for those who are allergic to whey, isolate or hydrolysate may be a better option.
Speak with your doctor or nutritionist to discuss whether adding whey protein to your daily diet is right for you.