11 Ways To Outsmart High Cholesterol

variety of sushi on a platterDo you know where your cholesterol is? Don’t assume your cholesterol is fine just because the doctor said so several years ago.

If your doctor determines your fasting total cholesterol level exceeds 200 or if your LDL cholesterol level is above 100, you can get it down safely with these simple lifestyle modifications.

1. Set a target.
How low can you go? Well, that depends. If you have a family or personal history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity or other high risk factors, your doctor might set a goal of less than 70. A target of less than 130 is generally okay for people with moderate risk factors. If you have two or more risk factors, it’s important to get treatment early.

2. Get physical.
Regular moderate exercise can lower LDL, bad cholesterol, and raise good cholesterol or HDL by up to 10 percent. Take a brisk walk for 30-45 minutes five days a week. No matter what moderate physical activity you chose it’s important to do it regularly and stay consistent.

3. Steer clear of saturated fat.
Gone are the days when doctors thought the answer was to cut back on egg intake. It is saturated fat that is the main culprit. That means slow down on the butter, shortening, lard, stick margarine, and substitue canola oil or olive oil in place of vegetable oil.

4. Eat more fiber.
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Soluble fiber especially can help lower cholesterol. It absorbs cholesterol like a sponge, so incorporate more beans, barley and oats into your diet.

5. Go fish.
Fish is full of cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and canned tuna are great sources of omega-3s. The recommendation is two or three servings a week.

Fish oil supplements can also have a profound effect on cholesterol levels. Plant sources of omega-3s, however, simply do not provide the same type of omega-3s as fish. Fish and fish oil are chockablock with cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends fish as the preferred source of omega-3s but if fish is not an option talk to your doctor about supplements.

6. Drink up.
Moderate alcohol usage can raise good cholesterol levels up to 10 percent. Moderate consumption is up to one drink a day for women and up to two for men. Excessive drinking, however is dangerous and the American Heart Association does not recommend you to increase your drinking or start drinking if you do not already.

7. Drink green.
Green tea is an excellent alternative to sodas and other sugary drinks. Research shows that green tea contains bad cholesterol-lowering compounds. A recent study from Brazil shows green tea extract can reduce LDL cholesterol by about 4.5 percent.

8. Go nuts.
Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, can bring fairly small reductions in cholesterol. Nuts are high in calories so a handful of nuts a day will suffice.

9. Can’t believe it’s not butter.
Margarine-like spreads have taken over the dairy sections of grocery stores. For a spread with cholesterol lowering benefits look for ones fortified with stanol. Stanols are a plant product that inhibits the body’s absorption of cholesterol.

10. Stay smoke free.
Smoking is bad for your health for many reasons. If you want to keep your cholesterol in check, kick the habit. Smoking lowers good cholesterol levels. This habit is a major risk factor for heart disease.

11. Consider medication.
Lifestyle modifications are essential to your success in lowering cholesterol and keeping it there. Michael Richman, MD, medical director of the Center for Cholesterol Management in Los Angeles, emphasizes medication in addition to lifestyle modification is the only way to quickly lower high cholesterol.

Niacin, fibrates, bile acid resins and statins are some common medicines available to lower cholesterol. Statins in particular are the drug of choice because they can lower cholesterol by 20 to 50 percent. However, it is up to your doctor to determine what medicine and course of action is best for you.

Because levels often increase with age, cardiologists recommend everyone over the age of 20 be screened at least once every five years. Those at high risk for heart disease should be tested even more frequently. Talk to your doctor about your last cholesterol screening to find out if you are due for another one.

Get Out The Gloves! It’s Good Fat Vs. Bad Fat

(BlackDoctor.org) — All fats aren’t bad, and in order to lower your cholesterol levels and cut down your risk of heart disease, it isn’t necessary to eliminate all dietary fats—just the bad ones. Good fat actually reduces high cholesterol and keeps your heart healthier.

The Bad Fats

• Saturated fat. This type of fat (along with trans fats) is what leads to high cholesterol caused by diet. This is an unhealthy fat found in animal products like beef, lamb, pork, butter, cheese, cream and other whole-milk dairy products. Certain plant oils, like coconut oil, also contain saturated fat.

• Trans fats and hydrogenated fats. Trans fats and hydrogenated fats are dietary fats created when processed; fattening ingredients like margarine and shortening are made. Many processed foods, commercially prepared baked goods, and fried foods contain trans and hydrogenated fats, which when ingested lead to high cholesterol.

• Cholesterol. Cholesterol is actually a fat-like material that we get in our diet by eating chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and whole-milk dairy products—many of the same foods that contain saturated fats. Limiting intake of foods with high cholesterol content boosts heart health and lowers cholesterol.

The Good Fats

 Polyunsaturated fat. This unsaturated fat is found in healthy, cholesterol-lowering foods like flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts. Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat. You can bulk up on this good fat by eating fish two to three times a week; try great sources like salmon and mackerel. Plant oils are also a good source of polyunsaturated fats (sunflower, corn and soybean oils).

• Monounsaturated fat. This unsaturated fat is found in certain plant oils, such as olive and canola oils. You can also get this good fat in your diet by eating nuts (such as pecans, almonds and hazelnuts), seeds (including pumpkin and sesame) and avocados.

Making Changes to Your Diet

If you have high cholesterol, make these smart and delicious changes to your meals to satisfy your heart and your appetite.

• Get butter out of the pan—Cooking with canola, olive, soybean, flaxseed or sunflower oil instead of butter or margarine is a good place to start switching from bad to good fats in your diet.

• Ditch the beef—Replace beef burgers with grilled turkey burgers; replace steak with lean skinless chicken breasts.

 Choose fish—Salmon is a healthy, rich and delicious alternative to meat, especially for people with high cholesterol.

 Snack crunchy, not greasy—Snack on nuts instead of potato chips; apples and carrots also make great crunchy snacks.

• Add avocado. It’s a satisfying meat alternative for sandwiches and wraps, and a tasty topping for salads.

 Slim down your dairy—When drinking milk or eating dairy products like cheese and cream, look for low-fat or non-fat versions.

• Enjoy egg whites—The yolks contain a lot of cholesterol, so to enjoy a delicious dish without them; whip up an egg-white-only omelet. Add some fresh herbs, vegetables, low-fat cheese or avocado for an even better taste.

Know Your Limits

The American Heart Association recommends that less than 7% of your daily calorie intake be from saturated fat, with less than 1% coming from trans fats. And even good fat can be harmful if not monitored—you can’t just eat all you want. Total fat consumption each day should be 25–35% of your total daily caloric intake or lower.

Cholesterol intake should be less than 300 milligrams per day for people with healthy cholesterol levels. But for those with high cholesterol, less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol should be your daily limit.

If you have high cholesterol, start reading labels; it’s the only way you’ll ever know what you’re eating. Avoid saturated and trans fats as much as possible because your body doesn’t need them, and experiment with healthy recipes and exciting new flavors to satisfy your taste buds as you lower your cholesterol.

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