How Food Impacts Cholesterol
The main culprits that cause high cholesterol are saturated fats and partially hydrogenated oil known as trans fat. These are commonly found in highly processed foods like:
- Commercial baked goods like doughnuts.
- Commercial snack foods like potato chips.
- Deep-fried foods.
- Fast food.
Keep in mind that trans fat can sneak into peanut butter, coffee creamers, frozen pizza and microwave popcorn. So read those labels. Even items that claim zero grams of trans fat may include partially hydrogenated oils. The fat in these items increases your bad cholesterol, lowers your good cholesterol and causes inflammation, the underlying cause of heart disease, explains Zumpano. Inflammation can contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries and cause blood clots to form around them, blocking blood flow.
Additionally, eating too many unhealthy foods can produce excess triglycerides, another form of fat found in your blood. High triglyceride levels result from having too many calories most often from too much fat or sugar in the diet. Triglycerides also stick to the walls of your arteries, worsening plaque buildup.
Tip #: Discuss Medication
Lifestyle changes are often enough to bring your numbers down if you have high cholesterol. However, if your cholesterol is severely elevated or you have other factors that make it more difficult to control cholesterol, lifestyle changes arent always enough. Protecting your heart is the number one priority. If your levels remain elevated despite lifestyle changes, discuss cholesterol-lowering medication with your doctor.
High cholesterol is a serious threat to your heart health. Partnering with a health professional like our board-certified cardiologist Dr. Kunal Patel, is a wise place to start on the path to improved cholesterol. Visit us here at the NJ Cardiovascular Institute for a checkup and for more information about how you can keep your heart healthy. Call 201-866-7000 to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Secaucus or Newark, New Jersey. Additionally, we accept booking requests here on our website
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Reduce Stress In Your Daily Life
Although stress is important in helping us escape from bad situations, persistent stress could promote heart disease. Some research has found that recurrent stress could also have an effect on your cholesterol levels. Learning how to cope with stress in your life could help keep your cholesterol levels in check and your heart healthy.
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Reduce Your Intake Of Saturated And Trans Fats
Adopt and follow a healthy diet thats low in saturated and trans fats. A diet high in these fats can raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature. Its found in animal products such as meat and dairy, but also in palm oil, coconut oil and full-cream milk. Read more about saturated fat-rich foods here.
Trans fats are found in store-bought baked goods, snack foods and deep-fried foods. There is strong evidence that trans fats increase levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, while decreasing levels of HDL cholesterol.
Some foods contain cholesterol . Foods that contain cholesterol include liver, pate, kidneys, prawns and egg yolks. These types of food are not usually eaten in large quantities, so its OK to include them in your diet in small amounts.
Foods that contain saturated fats have a greater effect on blood cholesterol levels than foods that contain dietary cholesterol.
How Often Should I Have My Cholesterol Tested
Adults should have their blood lipids measured every 5 years, starting at 45 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should start lipid blood tests at 35, because on average heart and blood vessel disease such as heart attacks and stroke happen 10 to 20 years earlier in Indigenous people.
All Australians in these age groups are eligible for a regular 20-minute heart health check with their doctor. This checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Your doctor can then assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years.
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High Cholesterol: Prevention Treatment And Research
Cholesterol is a natural component in everyones blood, and supports normal function of cell membranes, hormone levels and more. However, having too much, is considered hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia or high blood cholesterol a major risk factor for heart attack, heart disease and stroke. About 71 million Americans have high cholesterol.
Heres what happens in your body when you have high cholesterol: The waxy cholesterol builds up in artery walls and contributes to plaque, a hard deposit that narrows and clogs the arteries.
When plaque builds up, it becomes harder for the heart to circulate blood and oxygen, which can cause chest pain or shortness of breath with increased exertion . If a blood clot forms at the site of a disrupted plaque in a narrowed artery, it can block blood flow to the brain or to the heart .
There are actually several different types of cholesterol, one of which is high density lipoprotein cholesterol. High levels of some kinds of cholesterol, including low density lipoprotein cholesterol, can be harmful to your heart and blood vessels.
Eat More Plant Sources Of Protein
Excellent plant proteins include beans all beans, like lentils, red beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lower cholesterol.
Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
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Work With Your Doctor On A Lower Cholesterol Plan
Lowering your cholesterol doesnt mean going it alone. Your primary care doctor is a helpful partner along your journey.
Your doctor can work with you to create an action plan just for you one that combines diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes to help you lower and manage your cholesterol.
For example, losing weight and quitting smoking can be big helpers for lowering cholesterol. Quitting smoking can raise your good HDL cholesterol levels, and losing weight can lower your bad LDL cholesterol levels significantly.
But these two tasks arent easy. Fortunately, your primary care doctor can be a great resource to help you get started and find practical ways to stick with it. Plus, help with quitting smoking and losing weight may already be covered if you have health insurance.
Whether you want to quit smoking, lose weight or just learn more about how your personal health would benefit from lower cholesterol levels, regular check-ins with your doctor are key. They can also perform cholesterol tests the only way to actually measure cholesterol to check your progress and help you make adjustments based on the results.
What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol
You may have heard that there are both good and bad forms of cholesterol. This is true, but its often confusing to know which is which and why one is good vs. bad.
Lets clear that up:
Lipoproteins are the proteins on which cholesterol travels through the blood.
A High Density Lipoprotein absorbs the cholesterol and delivers it to the liver. Once the liver receives it, it flushes the cholesterol from the body. This is considered the good form of cholesterol, because it can reduce the risk for stroke and heart disease.
An excessive amount of Low Density Lipoprotein can build plaque on the walls of blood vessels, which has the potential to dangerously block the blood flow to the heart. This can increase the risk for stroke and heart disease. Hence, why its thought of as the bad cholesterol.
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Eating Well + Exercise
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3
The Stanford University School of Medicine study involved 200 middle-aged Americans, all sedentary and with poor eating habits. Some were told to launch new food and fitness habits at the same time. Others began dieting but waited several months before beginning to exercise. A third group started exercising but didnt change eating habits till several months later.
All the groups received telephone coaching and were followed for one year. The winning group was the one making food and exercise changes together. The people in this group were most likely to meet U.S. guidelines for exercise and healthy eating , and to keep calories from saturated fat at less than 10% of their total intake of calories.
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3
Replace Saturated Fats With Healthier Fats
Replacing foods that contain mainly saturated fats with foods that contain unsaturated fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats will help reduce your cholesterol level.
For example, instead of butter and cream in cooking, use olive oil, nut butters or avocado.
Healthy unsaturated fats are found in:
- fruits and vegetables
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Consider Plant Sterols And Stanols
Multiple types of supplements show promise for managing cholesterol.
Plant stanols and sterols are plant versions of cholesterol. Because they resemble cholesterol, they are absorbed from the diet like cholesterol.
However, because parts of their chemistry are different from human cholesterol, they do not contribute to clogged arteries.
Instead, they reduce cholesterol levels by competing with human cholesterol. When plant sterols are absorbed from the diet, this replaces the absorption of cholesterol.
Small amounts of plant stanols and sterols are naturally found in vegetable oils and are added to certain oils and butter substitutes.
A research review reported that clinical studies show that taking 1.53 grams of plant sterols/stanols daily can reduce LDL concentration by 7.512%. Researchers said taking it with a main meal twice per day allows for optimal cholesterol-lowering .
Although research has established the cholesterol-lowering benefit of plant stanols and sterols, it has not yet proved that they decrease the risk of heart disease. Numerous clinical trials have suggested that plant sterols supplements and enriched foods may lower heart disease risk, but hard data is still lacking .
Plant stanols and sterols in vegetable oil or margarines compete with cholesterol absorption and reduce LDL by up to 20%. They are not proven to reduce heart disease.
How To Prevent High Cholesterol Levels
Theres a lot of talk about how to lower high cholesterol levels, but not about what to do in order to prevent high cholesterol. There are things that you can do in order to keep your cholesterol under control, beginning with making a few lifestyle changes.
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You Can Begin Lowering Cholesterol Naturally Today
Sound like a lot to take on? Dont be intimidated. Bringing down your high cholesterol doesnt have to mean changing your life completely. Rather, start with changing your mindset. Instead of thinking of it as moving away from things, youre moving toward new habits that will help you create a healthier and more enjoyable future.
Now is always the right time to start taking care of your heart health. If you need a little support, lean on friends and family. And dont forget that your doctor is always there for you with advice, motivation and encouragement so you can reach your goals and live healthier.
Dont delay getting the heart care and answers you need
Triglycerides In Your Blood
In addition to cholesterol, your blood also contains a type of fat called triglycerides, which are stored in your bodys fat deposits. Hormones release triglycerides to make energy between meals.
When you eat, your body converts any extra energy it doesnt need right away into triglycerides.Like cholesterol, your body needs triglycerides to work properly. However, there is evidence to suggest that some people with high triglycerides are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you regularly eat more energy than you need, you may have high triglycerides.
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Work In Some More Movement To Your Daily Tasks
Do I need to start running every day? Do I need to join a gym or buy a bunch of home fitness equipment? If you want to, go ahead! But there are many other choices, and finding a routine that works for you is whats most important. After all, the best exercise for heart health, is the one that youll stick with.
Simple swaps to get more exercise each day
Ideally, you want to aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity every week. You can break that up however you like. You might focus on doing something every day, or you could dedicate yourself to just a few days per week. The key is to just get started.
For example, do you usually take the elevator? Take the stairs instead. Do you walk your dog every day? Go a little farther than usual or walk at a faster pace. Need to go shopping? Park farther away than you normally do. Catching up on your favorite TV series? Try stretching, dumbbells or kettlebells while youre watching rather than just sitting on the couch. Also look for chances to bring motion into your daily life, such as walking while you talk on the phone.
If youre feeling good, work up to more intense physical activity, like swimming laps, jogging or hot yoga. Dont overexert yourself, but remember that regular and consistent exercise has benefits beyond managing your cholesterol. It also helps reduce blood pressure and builds your overall physical, mental and emotional well-being.
A Guide To Healthy Eating: Strategies Tips And Recipes To Help You Make Better Food Choices
Eat real food. Thats the essence of todays nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvards Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices describes how to eat for optimum health.
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Tip #: Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption may offer health benefits, such as boosting good cholesterol and lowering the risk of heart disease. This is no reason to start drinking if you dont currently consume alcohol though.
Heavy drinking, on the other hand, has a negative influence on cholesterol and increases the risk of developing heart disease. Avoiding heavy alcohol consumption can improve your cholesterol levels. Stick to moderate alcohol consumption. Moderate intake is considered two drinks a day for men and one drink per day for women.
What Foods Will Lower My Cholesterol
The best way to eat a better diet is to swap your saturated fats with foods that are high in unsaturated fat like vegetable oils , nuts seeds and avocado and oily fish.
A few small swaps can make a big difference to your cholesterol level. Many people say they dont notice the difference. Try:
- swapping butter to vegetable oil spreads like sunflower, olive or rapeseed oil spreads
- switching whole milk to skimmed milk
- using natural yogurt instead of sour cream or double cream
- replacing regular mince with leaner, lower fat options
- swapping red or processed meat for fish, turkey or chicken without the skin, or plant-based proteins such as lentils, soya or Quorn
- switch your crisps for unsalted nuts
- having reduced fat cheese instead of regular cheese
- ordering less takeaways. Instead try our healthy comfort foods for delicious heart-healthy options.
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Supplements To Lower Cholesterol
Some companies sell supplements that they say can lower cholesterol. Researchers have studied many of these supplements, including red yeast rice, flaxseed, and garlic. At this time, there isn’t conclusive evidence that any of them are effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Also, supplements may cause side effects and interactions with medicines. Always check with your health care provider before you take any supplements.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol By Making Lifestyle Changes
You can lower your cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes, and through taking medicines if that’s what your doctor advises. Some people will only need to improve their lifestyle and diet to get their cholesterol to a safe level. Others may need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines, as well.
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What To Do If You Cant Lower Your Cholesterol The Natural Way
If youve spent about six months trying to adopt healthier lifestyle habits but still arent seeing a change in those cholesterol numbers, its time to talk to your doctor. They can provide specialized guidance specific to your health, and they may be able to prescribe you a medication to help, as well.
The great news is that heart disease is preventable and even if you cant do it with diet and exercise, there are some amazing medications out there, Dr. Cho says. Were so lucky to live in an era where we have something that can treat our diseases and help us live longer.