Cholesterol is a natural substance that the body produces through the liver. It’s waxy and circulates through the blood stream, feeding the heart and brain. But when cholesterol is derived from foods like saturated fats and trans fats, the body over produces LDL, which is the “bad” cholesterol.
HDL is the “good” cholesterol. If we did not have HDL, our brains would not work properly, and we would suffer from other bodily disorders. The same holds true for too much bad, LDL cholesterol. If we have too much LDL, then it adversely affects our overall health.
What numbers are healthy?
Your total Cholesterol is made up of LDL and HDL. There are blood tests that your physician will order to check your cholesterol level. The best combination of both types of cholesterol is HDL (good) around 40 and LDL (bad) around 100.
What are the Risk Factors?
Cholesterol along with another substance in the blood can form atherosclerosis, which is the plaque that builds up in the arteries. If you have excessive plaque, then you are at high risk of having a coronary heart attack, heart disease, stroke and other disease related issues. Triglycerides are the fat that is stored in the bloodstream from the excess fat in our diets. Triglycerides are what combine with the high LDL level and create harmful plaque build up.
What you can do
Because much of the high degree of cholesterol is associated with our food intake and our body’s inability to burn fat, you can do many things to help lower your cholesterol naturally.
• Eating healthy diet
• Stop smoking (contributes to atherosclerosis)
• Start an exercise program
• Cut back on alcohol and processed foods
You should have an annual exam with your physician to check your cholesterol levels on a regular basis. If you have a high lipid count, your doctor will prescribe medication (statins) for you to help lower the total level. In addition to statins, you can change your diet to get your levels to drop more rapidly.
Foods to incorporate
A big part of lowering your LDL or low-density lipoprotein is through adding soluble fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, monosaturated fatty acids or MUFAs, powerful antioxidants and lutein to your diet. Some of the following foods listed below can literally lower your “bad” cholesterol levels by 5-10% within just a few weeks. But in order for these nutrients to make the most efficient decrease in your cholesterol, you must adhere to an overall healthy diet. You can’t eat fried chicken and then eat an apple and think you’ll get the benefit. You’ll need to make a plan to eliminate the processed foods in your diet.
Cholesterol Lowering Foods
Oatmeal and Oat bran
Fatty fish (salmon and sardines)
It’s always best to speak directly with your physician before completely changing your diet or exercise program. Your doctor will construct a precise plan to suit your specific needs and incorporate some of the foods mentioned above along with a coordinated lifestyle strategy.
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