How To Maintain Or Achieve Healthy Cholesterol Levels
High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart and vascular disease, and it affects millions of people. In fact, in the United States alone, 73.5 million adults have high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad cholesterol. And, its estimated that those with high total cholesterol numbers have twice the risk of heart disease than those with ideal levels.The good news is, there are many things a person can do to lower the bad and raise the good.
Use Polyunsaturated Fats Especially Omega
Polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds that make them behave differently in the body than saturated fats. Research shows that polyunsaturated fats reduce bad LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
For example, one study replaced saturated fats in 115 adults diets with polyunsaturated fats for eight weeks. By the end, total and LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by about 10% .
Another study included 13,614 adults. They replaced dietary saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, providing about 15% of total calories. Their risk of coronary artery disease dropped by nearly 20% .
Polyunsaturated fats also seem to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Another study changed the diets of 4,220 adults, replacing 5% of their calories from carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fats. Their blood glucose and fasting insulin levels decreased, indicating a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes .
Omega-3 fatty acids are an especially heart-healthy type of polyunsaturated fat. Theyre found in seafood and fish oil supplements .
Omega-3 fats are found in high amounts in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and deep sea tuna like bluefin or albacore, and to a lesser degree in shellfish including shrimp .
Other sources of omega-3s include seeds and tree nuts, but not peanuts.
All polyunsaturated fats are heart-healthy and may reduce the risk of diabetes. Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat with extra heart benefits.
Putting Together A Low Cholesterol Diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber soy protein and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
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How Is High Cholesterol Treated
If your child has an LDL cholesterol level of 130 mg/dL or higher, your doctor will talk to you about lifestyle changes or refer you to a dietitian. The goals are to:
- reduce fat and cholesterol in the diet
- increase exercise
- lose weight, if needed
Your doctor will probably do a cholesterol check again after 36 months of lifestyle changes.
Medicine might be considered for kids 10 and older whose LDL cholesterol is 190 mg/dL or higher if changes in diet and exercise haven’t worked. Kids with risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure or a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, may need treatment at lower LDL levels.
How Often Should Cholesterol Levels Be Tested
There are no real symptoms or signs of high cholesterol, so persons over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol levels tested with a lipid profile blood test at least once every 5 years, beginning at the age of 20. For men age 35 and older, and women age 45 and older , doctors recommend more frequent cholesterol testing.
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Simple Ways To Lower Cholesterol
When you have high cholesterol level, it can help to change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your cholesterol range. Lowering cholesterol has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. Even if you are taking a medication to lower your cholesterol levels, diet and exercise in addition can lead to optimal heart and blood vessel health. The following tips include simple ways to be healthy.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Am I at risk for heart disease?
- How often should I get my cholesterol tested?
- What are my cholesterol levels? What do they mean?
- What lifestyle changes do I need to make to help improve my cholesterol levels and heart health?
- Is there a chance that Ill need cholesterol-lowering medicine?
- What are the risks and benefits of taking this medicine?
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How To Help Lower Cholesterol Without Medication
Cholesterol gets a bad rap, but it is actually an essential component in the membrane of nearly every cell in your body. Cholesterol also serves as a necessary precursor in the production of steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. That said, high cholesterol, or hyperlipidemia, is an adverse health condition characterized by excessively high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as bad cholesterol.
In contrast with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or good cholesterol, which actually helps remove excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, high LDL cholesterol increases the risk of atherosclerosis, or arterial hardening and plaque buildup, along with heart disease and other vascular diseases. For example, studies show that compared to those with normal cholesterol levels, people with high cholesterol are about not twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Eating For Lower Cholesterol
Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health, whether your cholesterol has crept up over the years or you have a genetic condition. It will improve your health in other ways too, helping to lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Help Improve My Cholesterol Levels
Exercise can raise HDL cholesterol levels. It can also reduce levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides . Try to work out for 30 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Your workout should be moderate to vigorous. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise plan.
Lose weight if youre overweight.
Being overweight can raise your cholesterol levels. Losing weight, even just 5 or 10 pounds, can lower your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
If you smoke, quit.
Smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. Even exposure to second-hand smoke can affect your HDL level. Talk to your doctor about developing a plan to help you stop smoking.
Eat a heart-healthy diet.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat. They add flavor and variety to your diet. They are also the best source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals for your body. Aim for 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day. This should not include potatoes, corn, or rice. These count as carbohydrates.
- Pick good fats over bad fats. Fat is part of a healthy diet, but there are bad fats and good fats. Bad fats include saturated and trans fats. They are found in foods such as:
- Fats in whole milk dairy products.
Limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Avoid trans fat completely.
In addition to fiber, whole grains supply B vitamins and important nutrients not found in foods made with white flour.
How To Keep Your Cholestrol Low
This article was co-authored by Carlotta Butler, RN, MPH. Carlotta Butler is a Registered Nurse in Arizona. Carlotta is a member of the American Medical Writers Association. She received her Masters of Public Health from the Northern Illinois University in 2004 and her Masters in Nursing from the University of St. Francis in 2017.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 4,255 times.
To maintain low cholesterol levels, you need to do many of the same things you would do to lower your cholesterol levels. That is, to maintain good cholesterol, you must eat a healthy diet filled with omega-3s and low in trans-fat, keep your blood sugar in a healthy range, and exercise. You can also make a few lifestyle changes that will help.
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What Is The Difference Between Ldl And Hdl
LDL is also known as bad cholesterol for our bodies. If this bad cholesterol level gets increased in the blood than this LDL gets stick to the wall of the blood vessel, as a result, the blood walls get narrow and stiffen which produces the obstruction in the normal flow of the blood.
As a result, the person is at a high risk of developing ischemic heart disease. LDL is the richest in cholesterol and has the maximum association with atherosclerosis.
HDL is known as good cholesterol for our bodies. It helps in the removal of LDL cholesterol from the blood to the liver where LDL breakdown takes place and removal from the body also takes place. HDL helps in reducing the level of cholesterol from the blood and prevent atherosclerosis. For this reason, HDL is known as good cholesterol for our bodies.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Even a small amount of extra weight can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Fortunately, if youre overweight, you dont have to lose it all shedding just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can cause a major reduction in cholesterol levels, according to the Obesity Action Coalition. You gain and lose weight based on whether youre eating more or fewer calories than you burn each day. Find out what your daily calorie needs are by using this handy food plan calculator from the U.S. Department of Agriculture .
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Steer Clear Of Trans Fats
Trans fats offer absolutely no nutritional benefit and should be removed from your diet as much as possible. Also referred to as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats are found in processed foods like packaged snack cakes, commercially-fried foods, margarine, movie theater popcorn, vegetable shortening, and processed meats. These oils make food more shelf-stable but can wreak havoc on your health, simultaneously increasing LDL cholesterol and lowering HDL cholesterol, according to research.
Substitute Healthy Oils In Place Of Butter And Margarine
Of course, its not always realistic to avoid fats when youre whipping up a tasty meal.
When you do need to add fat for cooking, baking or pan frying, use healthy oils instead of solid fats like butter, margarine, shortening and lard. Solid fats are high in saturated fats, but oils are high in unsaturated fats, which remember are better for you. The American Heart Association recommends using oils that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon .
Many times, its easy to swap a solid fat to a healthier one. Try using olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil in place of a solid fat.
For example, if youd rather use olive oil than butter, substitute ¾ the amount of butter in a recipe with olive oil. You might also bring out some new, surprising, subtle flavors, too.
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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.
Saturated And Unsaturated Fat
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- cakes and biscuits
- foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels.
Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with small amounts of foods high in unsaturated fats, such as:
- oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
- nuts such as almonds and cashews
- seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oils and spreads such as rapeseed or vegetable oil, sunflower, olive, corn and walnut oils
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Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
Eat More Beans Fewer Potatoes
Carbohydrates are important for energy production. However, there are differences in the quality of carbohydrates, too. Whole grains like beans, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice are high in fiber that can help lower cholesterol. Whole grains also keep you feeling full longer. The carbohydrates in pastries, white rice, white bread, and potatoes boost blood sugar levels rapidly. This can lead you to feel hungry sooner, potentially leading to overeating.
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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
Healthy Eating Tips To Lower Cholesterol
As well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, try these tips to help you manage your cholesterol:
- Limit takeaway foods to once a week .
- Limit salty, fatty and sugary snack foods to once a week .
- Eat plenty of vegetables aim for 5 serves of vegetables every day. .
- Choose wholegrain breads, cereal, pasta, rice and noodles.
- Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit .
- Include legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, split peas), beans into at least two meals a week. Check food labels and choose the lowest sodium products.
- Use spreads and margarines made from healthy unsaturated fats instead of those made with saturated fat .
- Use healthy oils for cooking some include canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Use salad dressings and mayonnaise made from oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Include 2 or 3 serves of plant-sterol-enriched foods every day .
- Have 2 to 3 portions of oily fish every week. Fish may be fresh, frozen or canned.
- Include up to 7 eggs every week.
- Select lean meat and limit unprocessed red meat to less than 350g per week.
- Choose reduced fat, no added sugar milk, yoghurt, or calcium-added non-dairy food and drinks.
- Limit or avoid processed meats including sausages and deli meats .
If you are having trouble with your cholesterol levels, a dietitian can help you to eat healthily for your specific needs.
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What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol-carriers, and these affect the body in very different ways. Low-density lipoproteins make up most of the bodys cholesterol, and are referred to as bad cholesterol because high levels that build up and clog artery walls can lead to heart disease and stroke.
The lower your LDL cholesterol, the lower your risk.
High-density lipoproteins are referred to as good cholesterol because they actually protect against heart disease and stroke by absorbing the bad, LDL cholesterol and carrying it to the liver where the body can flush it out.
Triglycerides are the form in which most fats exist in foods. In the body, excess calories, alcohol, or sugars are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.While not technically cholesterol, triglyceride measurement is part of any cholesterol test because high levels can also increase risk for heart disease.