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Managing High Cholesterol Through Your Diet

Diet plays a major role in the management of high cholesterol. It is important to learn how to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet incorporating lower cholesterol options while cutting back on the higher fat foods. …

Diet plays a major role in the management of high cholesterol. It is important to learn how to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet incorporating lower cholesterol options while cutting back on the higher fat foods.

The cholesterol reading you receive from your doctor when you have blood taken is comprised of several different numbers with different significance.

  • Total Cholesterol – a measure of the fat in your blood. Cholesterol is made by your liver and consumed through your diet. Too much cholesterol in the body can cause plaque formation (a buildup of fat in the blood) and increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) – often referred to as “bad” cholesterol.
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) – often referred to as “good” cholesterol
  • Triglycerides – being overweight or having too much fat, sugar, and /or alcohol in the diet can raise this level.

Some key points to eating healthy when managing high cholesterol include:

  1. Choose lean cuts of beef and lower fat protein options such as chicken, fish, turkey, and egg whites.
    • Beef contains higher amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol which can contribute to higher blood cholesterol levels. Select protein sources with lower saturated fat content.
  2. Bake, broil, and/or grill foods without added fat wherever possible.
    • Frying in oil or adding butter to cook foods adds more saturated fat to the food you are preparing to eat.
  3. Choose non-fat or low-fat dairy products.
    • Regular whole milk, yogurt, and cheeses can add a lot of saturated fat to your diet. Try skim or 1% milk, nonfat yogurt, and low fat cheeses.
  4. Lighten up on the sweets.
    • Baked and processed goods tend to have higher amounts of saturated fats in them. Cut back on consumption of cookies, cakes, pies, and regular ice cream.
  5. Increase intake of “good” fats in your diet.
    • Monounsaturated fats are known to help increase your HDL or “good” cholesterol levels which in turn can help lower your total cholesterol reading. When using fat, choose foods regularly that have monounsaturated fats in them such as avocado, olive oil, and peanut butter.
  6. Get moving!
    • Increasing your activity level can improve your cholesterol levels. Exercise helps increase your HDL or “good” cholesterol level and lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
  7. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables and add more fiber to your diet.
    • Foods with higher fiber content have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Choose whole wheat products versus refined products wherever possible and try to incorporate a fruit or a vegetable with each meal.
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