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CHOLESTEROL, HIGH

FOODS THAT HARM

  • Heavily marbled red meat
  • Pizza
  • Hard margarines
  • Store-bought baked goods
  • Fast and junk foods
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Fried foods

    FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Sterol-fortified orange juice
  • Oats and oat bran
  • Kidney beans
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Fish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • Salt and salty foods

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • 35 million adult Americans
  • People with a family history of high cholesterol
  • Overweight people
  • Sedentary people
  • Women over the age of 50
  • Men over the age of 60
  • People with diabetes
  • Smokers
  • Heavy drinkers
    Cholesterol is the fatty, waxy compound that the body uses to produce hormones, vitamin D, and fat-digesting bile acids
    A little goes a long way; what’s left over ends up in the arteries
    There, it can form deposits called plaque on artery walls, which narrows and hardens arteries and reduces blood flow
    Blockage to coronary arteries can cause chest pain and heart attack; carotid artery blockage may cause stroke, and when leg arteries are blocked, it may hurt to walk
    The proteins that carry cholesterol throughout your bloodstream are known as lipoprotein, and come in three types:
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
    The “bad” cholesterol, LDL builds up on artery walls and narrows them.
  • Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)
    This contains triglycerides, a blood fat
    VLDL enlarges LDL cholesterol and increases its potential to narrow blood vessels.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
    A “good” form of cholesterol, HDL collects excess cholesterol and moves it to your liver.

    Nutrition Connection

    Diet plays a key role in raising or lowering cholesterol levels
    In particular, eating high amounts of saturated fats—found in fatty cuts of meat, high-fat cheeses, whole milk and cream, butter, ice cream, and palm and coconut oils—can raise cholesterol levels
    And then there are the lab-produced trans fats
    These insidious fats, which can spike LDL levels, form through a chemical process (hydrogenation) that increases the shelf life of oils
    Some margarines, store-bought baked goods, french fries, and other fast foods can contain trans fats
    Here’s how to eat smarter to avoid high cholesterol: Choose lean meats
    Avoid cuts of meat that are richly marbled with fat; trim all visible fat before cooking
    Also, remove poultry skin before (or at least after) cooking
    Seek out plant sterols
    These substances help block the absorption of cholesterol
    They are added to many food products, including spreads, orange juice, and yogurt drinks
    Aim to consume 2 g a day (the amount in two 8-oz (227 g) servings of sterol-fortified orange juice
    Doing so can lower LDL levels by a healthy 10%
    Skim the dairy
    Select 1% or fat-free milk instead of whole or 2% milk
    Most cheeses now have low-fat versions
    Get friendly with fiber
    Soluble fiber reduces LDL and reduces absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream
    Good sources include oats, kidney beans, apples, pears, and prunes
    Eating 5 to 10 g of soluble fiber a day can lower total and LDL cholesterol
    Cook with EVOO
    Extra virgin olive is a “good fat” because it contains antioxidants that help lower your LDL and preserve healthy HDL levels
    Add omega-3s
    These healthy fatty acids come from fish, some plants, and nuts and can reduce triglyceride levels (another anti-healthy heart blood fat)
    A low-dose omega-3 supplement containing 400 mg EPA plus DHA reduced heart attacks in a 2012 study
    Moderate your drinking
    One (for women) or two (for men) drinks a day can raise HDL levels
    But more is definitely not better: Heavy drinkers up their risks for high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke

    Beyond the Diet

    You can’t control the genetic factors that lead to high cholesterol
    However, there’s good news: You can control many lifestyle factors that contribute to high numbers and raise the risk for heart disease
    Shed a few
    Pounds, that is
    While your goal should be to get to your healthiest weight, your cholesterol will drop as soon as you lose that first 5 or 10 pounds
    Get physical
    Even 10-minute intervals of exercise a few times a day can lower cholesterol and raise your HDL levels
    Toss the butts
    Quitting smoking can raise your HDL levels and lower your blood pressure
    Within just one year, quitters can halve their heart attack risk