Final Thoughts On Overall Heart Health & Cholesterol
Theres no magical food that is going to keep your risk of a heart attack at bay. You can work to lower your cholesterol levels by eating certain foods that help your body keep up its health. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle into your food routine will help your body as a whole. Contact your local physician to discuss your new diet, and youll be on your way to an entirely new healthy lifestyle in no time.
What To Eat: Foods That Lower Cholesterol
There is great evidence to support functional foods that help lower cholesterol, Featherstun says. Add these choices to your diet:
Plant stanols and sterols These are naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell walls, Featherstun says. They interfere with cholesterol absorption in the small intestine and can help lower LDL cholesterol. A study published in October 2012 in Lipids in Health and Disease found that eating 9 to 10 grams of stanols per day can help lower LDL cholesterol by more than 17 and as much as 22 percent. You can get plant stanols and sterols in margarine-like spreads such as Benecol and Smart Balance, available in the dairy section of most grocery stores.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats These fats can help decrease LDL cholesterol, Featherstun says. To get them, eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, or king mackerel, at least twice a week. Other good sources of unsaturated fats include chia seeds, avocados, almonds, walnuts, and olive oil.
Soy foods Soy proteins contain isoflavones and phytoestrogens, which block both cholesterol absorption and new cholesterol production, Featherstun says. Good sources of soy protein include tofu, soy milk, and edamame. Try to replace one daily animal protein item with a soy protein alternative, Featherstun suggests.
Be Selective With Your Fats
Though it sounds backward, foods high in dietary cholesterol don’t actually seem to raise our body’s cholesterol levels. To lower your cholesterol, limit foods with saturated fats and instead, go for leaner white meat and plant-based protein options , and switch over to low-fat dairy products. Additionally, you’ll want to include more heart-healthy fats from foods like salmon, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, which help to improve cholesterol levels.
A step that can have an even larger impact on lowering cholesterol levels is eliminating foods made with hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats , which are highly processed fats that are associated with increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA has banned food manufacturers from adding trans fats as of January 2020, but still check ingredient lists and avoid products with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats listed.
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Fried Chicken: 161 Mg 54% Dv
Crispy fried chicken is one of the most popular fast foods in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In one KFC fried chicken breast with skin, you’ll get 54 percent of the DV for cholesterol, as well as 45 percent DV for total fat and 38 percent DV for saturated fat.
Fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish, are linked with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a January 2019 study in the BMJ. The study also found that the more fried food people ate, the greater their chance of developing heart disease.
Sausage: 2701mg 90% Dv
You might want to rethink how often you eat sausages and other processed meats. A large cooked kielbasa sausage link provides 90 percent of the DV for cholesterol. Plus, it’s high in saturated fat, sodium, nitrates and other preservatives.
Processed meat intake can increase your risk of developing diabetes and coronary heart disease . In fact, CHD risk can increase 18 percent for every 50 grams per day of processed red meat you eat, according to a July 2021 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
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What Treatments Are Available For High Cholesterol
Treatment may include:
Addressing risk factors. Some risk factors that can be changed include lack of exercise and poor eating habits.
Cholesterol-lowering medicines. Medicines are used to lower fats in the blood, particularly LDL cholesterol. Statins are a group of medicines that can do this. The two most effective types are atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. Other medicines that lower cholesterol levels are ezetimibe and PCSK9 inhibitors.
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.
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What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance thats found in all cells of the body. Our bodies need cholesterol to make hormones that protect the body, vitamin D and bile salts that are necessary for the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Plus, the brain and nervous system depend on cholesterol for the creation of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Our bodies make the cholesterol that we need, but we get cholesterol from our food too. If you have too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries and may lead to atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries.
Eventually, high cholesterol levels may cause heart and blood flow problems, leading to dangerous blood clots and inflammation that can cause heart attacks and strokes. High cholesterol levels alone do not determine if you are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Other factors include your blood pressure, whether or not you smoke, whether or not you have diabetes, and your age, sex and race.
According to the American Heart Association, many people dont know their cholesterols are too high because there are usually no symptoms. High cholesterol can cause a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries, reducing blood flow through the arteries. This can lead to coronary heart disease and complications, such as chest pain , heart attack and stroke.
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Checking Your Blood Cholesterol Level
A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help identify your risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test.
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Cook Fresh Vegetables The Heart
Try cooking vegetables in a tiny bit of vegetable oil and add a little water during cooking, if needed. Just one or two teaspoons of oil is enough for a package of plain frozen vegetables that serves four. Place the vegetables in a skillet with a tight cover and cook them over very low heat until done.
Add herbs and spices to make vegetables even tastier. For example, these combinations add subtle and surprising flavors:
- Rosemary with peas, cauliflower and squash
- Oregano with zucchini
- Basil with tomatoes
Start with a small quantity of herbs and spices , then let your familys feedback be your guide. Chopped parsley and chives, sprinkled on just before serving, can also enhance the flavor of many vegetables.
Coconut Oil And Cream
Coconut oil is considered healthy, but they contain saturated fats in the form of lauric acid. These saturated fats can add to your total cholesterol levels in the body. It is best to limit the consumption of coconut oil in your diet daily. It is safe to consume 24gms of saturated fat daily. You may even avoid using processed oils in your diet like canola and corn oil as they contain high transfats.
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Monitor Your Cholesterol With Other Dairy Alternatives
Instead of whole milk, try non-dairy alternatives. “Alternatively, you can switch to a plant-based milk like soy milk or almond milk which contains no saturated fat or cholesterol,” William W. Li, MD, a physician, scientist, and author of Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself tells Health Digest. In addition, Everyday Health says that 25 grams of soy protein can also reduce the risk of heart disease. Almond milk also contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, which lower LDL levels.
Everyday Health also says that hemp milk derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant but does not have the psychoactive ingredient THC has no cholesterol and low saturated fat. There are also beneficial nutrients for heart health, including omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium, which help maintain a regular heartbeat rhythm.
Everyday Health recommends drinking goat milk if you want a similar flavor profile to whole milk or are lactose intolerant. Although, one cup of goat’s milk is high in calories with 6.5 grams of saturated fat and 27 milligrams of cholesterol.
Nutrition And Dietary Supplements
In addition to eating a healthy diet, low in saturated fat, with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, some specific foods and supplements may help lower cholesterol.
Fiber: Several studies show that soluble fiber lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Fiber can also help you lose weight because it makes you feel full. Your doctor will encourage you to get more fiber in your diet. You may also take a fiber supplement. Men should get 30 to 38 g of fiber per day. Women should get 21 to 25 g per day.
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber found in oat bran and other plants. It slightly reduces LDL cholesterol, which is why oat bran is touted as a cholesterol-lowering food.
Soy: Many studies have shown that eating soy protein , rather than animal meat, helps lower blood cholesterol levels, especially when you eat a diet low in saturated fat. One study found that as little as 20 g of soy protein per day is effective in reducing total cholesterol, and that 40 to 50 g shows faster effects . Another study found that soy can help reduce triglyceride levels. The AHA recommends that people with elevated total and LDL cholesterol add soy to their daily diet, and that soy is safe when consumed as part of your regular diet. But talk to your doctor before you take soy supplements. Soy isoflavones may have estrogen-like effects in the body, which might lead to an increased risk of breast and other cancers.
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How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day|
|69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include
How Long Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol Through Diet
Before making major changes to your diet, you probably want to know how long it will take before you see results in your bloodwork. “It takes time for the body to respond and change,” says Greenfield, who notes that this process may take a few months. However, it’s the slow and steady progress that usually makes the longest-lasting impact. Greenfield sees this as a positive for ensuring a healthy future. “You are now establishing heart-healthy habits that you need to carry you to a healthy, ripe age.”
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What Kind Of Test Measures Cholesterol
Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every five years. Your healthcare provider will order a blood test that will indicate how much cholesterol is carried in your bloodstream. This test will give your cholesterol levels. Your provider might also order what is called a lipid panel or a lipid profile. The panel gives you the following numbers:
- Total cholesterol.
- Non-HDL cholesterol.
- Ratio between cholesterol and HDL.
There are advanced tests that break down the size and shapes of LDL cholesterol levels, and also give the LDL particle number, but those are not normally ordered. Some test makers say that the more advanced tests are better at indicating who is at risk for heart disease, but most providers still feel that the usual tests are adequate.
How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
All kids should have their cholesterol checked when they’re between 9 and 11 years old and again when they’re between 17 and 21.
Kids over 2 years old should be tested if they:
- have a parent or other close relative with a total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL
- have a family history of cardiovascular disease before age 55 in men and age 65 in women
- have some kinds of medical conditions
- are overweight or obese
- have diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoke cigarettes
Your doctor can order a blood test to check your child’s cholesterol. Your child may have to fast before the test.
According to the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, the ranges of total and LDL cholesterol for kids and teens 218 years old are:
mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter
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How To Diagnose High Cholesterol
To measure your cholesterol levels, your doctor will use a simple blood test. Its known as a lipid panel. They can use it to assess your levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
To conduct this test, your doctor or other healthcare professional will take a sample of your blood. They will send this sample to a lab for analysis. When your test results become available, they will let you know if your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are too high.
To prepare for this test, your doctor may ask you to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 12 hours beforehand. Learn more about testing your cholesterol levels.
Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.
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Getting A Cholesterol Test
A blood sample is taken that will be used to determine the amount of bad cholesterol , good cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood.
You may be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours before the cholesterol test, usually including when you’re asleep at night. This ensures that all food is completely digested and won’t affect the outcome of the test.
Your GP or practice nurse can carry out the cholesterol test and will take a blood sample, either using a needle and a syringe or by pricking your finger.
A newer type of test that measures non-high-density lipoprotein is now sometimes used because it’s thought to be a more accurate way of estimating cardiovascular disease risk than LDL.
Non-HDL cholesterol is total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol. It’s also not necessary to fast before the test, so it is more convenient.
Triglycerides A Different Type Of Lipid
Triglycerides are another type of lipid. Theyre different from cholesterol. While your body uses cholesterol to build cells and certain hormones, it uses triglycerides as a source of energy.
When you eat more calories than your body can use right away, it converts those calories into triglycerides. It stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through your bloodstream.
If you regularly eat more calories than your body can use, your triglyceride levels can get high. This may raise your risk of several health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Your doctor can use a simple blood test to measure your triglyceride level, as well as your cholesterol levels. Learn how to get your triglyceride level tested.
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