Cholesterol lowering strategies

Cholesterol can be a ticking time bomb inside many people. And given the stresses and makeup of the American life and diet, it’s only a matter of time before it slows us down, or stops us dead in our tracks.

Cholesterol, or lipids, are a necessary part of our diet. There are three types of cholesterol: high density lipids (HDL), low density lipids (LDL) and very low density lipids (VLDL). Too much cholesterol, especially LDL, can be damaging to our circulatory system.

cholesterol

To make travel in the blood work (as fat does not mix with water) the lipids are enclosed by protein. It’s the LDL that has a thinner coating of protein with causes it to over time to snag and collect on artery walls. HDL has a thicker protein coating that can pick up extra LDLs and help “break apart” clogs as it travels through the circulatory system.

Taking a few simple steps in your daily life can help reduce the amount of fat we ingest and improve levels of HDL, which scientists believe help “clean out” our body’s arteries.

Action steps you can begin now to lower your cholesterol:

  • Exercise. Losing weight will lower your cholesterol overall, and raise the good HDL levels
  • Up your intake of soluble fiber. For every 1-2 grams of soluble fiber consumed daily, you may lower your LDL by 1%
  • Limit your intake of red meat and pork. Choose poultry and fish and prepare them by baking, broiling or grilling
  • Include food in your diet that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna, flax seeds, walnuts and almonds are great choices.

Socializing, working or just being on the run is a part of our lifestyle. Many of us dine out during the week as a necessity, but it doesn’t mean you should forget about cholesterol. Below are a few tips and suggestions to cutting cholesterol on the go:

  • Order food items baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, roasted or stir-fried
  • Ask if you can substitute healthier choices for your sides (steam veggies for french fries, brown rice for mashed potatoes)
  • Ask for dressings and toppings on the side (butter, sour cream, dressings) and use sparingly, or not at all
  • If you can in advance, check out the restaurant’s menu online. Look and plan ahead for healthy options so you are not tempted in a time crunch, or influenced by your party’s choices
  • If you are not sure on the ingredients or how something is prepared, ask!

Small steps to adjust your diet on a daily basis will help add healthy years to your life. You can still enjoy great food, but in moderation and with some adjustments. A 20 minute meal of great rich, fatty foods may taste great, but the long term payout isn’t worth it.

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