The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that 33.5% of the total population (71 million Americans) suffer from high cholesterol. Less than half of these are treating the problem at all, and continue to exasperate the problem by eating poorly, while only one-third have it under control. Why is that, and how can it be overcome?
Of course, be sure to check with your doctor before you change your diet too radically, but making HEALTH your primary goal, rather than just “reducing cholesterol” is almost guaranteed to work wonders in your life on many levels regarding health. As far as cholesterol itself goes, eating good fats vs. bad fats are typically the solution to the problem, but it also includes ensuring you have enough fiber in your diet, and that enough heart-healthy foods (like plant foods) are eaten, along with getting proper exercise.
Risk factors for high cholesterol
Risk factors for high cholesterol can be linked to any one or more of these problems:
Lack of exercise
High blood pressure
Family history of heart disease
Except for family history (genetic issues you should be aware of in your family), smoking (a choice), and in some cases Type 1 diabetes (type 2 is often preventable via diet), the rest of the risk factors are almost entire caused by the one factor at the top of the list: POOR DIET.
The risk for having all the other “risk factors” go up exponentially if one eats an unhealthy diet. One is not the indicator for another risk factor, directly, but this inexhaustive list often goes hand in hand with unhealthy eating habits. With that said, let’s discuss cholesterol specifically…
Good cholesterol and bad cholesterol
The main cause of bad cholesterol levels is not a usually lack of cholesterol-lowering medicines or medical treatment, but poor continual food choices on the part of the people with the problem. If you are ready to take responsibility for your heart-health, so you can avoid heart disease (a leading cause of death in the United States), then you are one step ahead of half the population.
There are two types of cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol” being LDL cholesterol, and HDL being the “good cholesterol.” One way to remember which cholesterol is which is easy… think of the “L” in LDL as the cholesterol you want to remain Low, and the “H” in HDL cholesterol to remain High. In order to reduce LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL it will take a few changes in how you eat.
The average adult American has a total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL, but realize that this number is actually borderline for high risk. Doctors would just prescribe statins and other drugs, but it covers up the problem and treats the symptoms only, it does not solve the source the problem—unhealthy foods!
Unless your health is beyond your control, and you should be in a doctor’s care, then food can be your medicine. Even if you are on medications, you can still choose to eat healthy in the meantime while you get your cholesterol under control.
Foods that lower cholesterol
Some of the foods that lower cholesterol include almonds, and oatmeal. Eliminate trans-fats from your diet altogether, if possible. Here are some suggestions:
Flax seeds—ground seeds are far healthier than whole, since whole seeds just pass through your system, but does not deliver the nutrients you need.
Whole grains (avoid white flour, white rice, and sugar like the plague), and 100% whole wheat, brown rice, and other seeds add fiber to your diet while also lowering cholesterol.
Garlic has cholesterol-lowering effects.
7-10 RAW almonds or walnuts per day.
Oily cold-water fish, like salmon or trout or tuna 3-5 times per week and avoid red meats. If you do eat other meats, try to keep it at no more than 4 ounces a few times per week.
Fruit with the skins on add fiber and nutrients, and they also make great snacks to substitute for unhealthy snacks like potato chips, which can raise LDL cholesterol.
The soluble beta glucan fiber in oatmeal has been shown in studies to lower cholesterol.
Eat colorful vegetables, and plenty of them (raw is best when possible). This should be the main staple to your diet. They have fiber, the different colors each have different forms of nutrition (so eat them in balance), plus have fiber and phytonutrients (plant chemicals that help prevent disease).
Beans also are high in fiber and protein, and can help lower cholesterol.
Try more salad and less dressing. Salad dressings are loaded with bad fats (and therefore represent bad cholesterol for you), sugar, preservatives, and are not necessarily good for you. Consider drizzling extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar and herbs instead.
Avocados are high in fat, but it is the good fat that raises HDL cholesterol, which helps reduce LDL cholesterol. They are high in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat), plus beta-sitosterol (suppresses cholesterol absorption). They also help your body increase the absorption of antioxidants, which help fight disease.
This list is just a place to start. Please continue to ask your doctor and make small every day changes to your diet to improve your overall health and you’ll find that cholesterol levels will go down as long as you are consistent (the key to success!).
The author of this story (Sharon Cornet) is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, such as Amino Acid Information Center at http://www.aminoacidinformation.com and http://www.medicinalmushroominfo.com, as well as http://www.todayswordofwisdom.com and http://www.vancouverhealthnews.ca (most of these articles are posted in multiple locations with permission).
2015 copyright Sharon Buydens