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Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Has your doctor said you have high cholesterol? Then you know you need to change your diet and lifestyle to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Even if your doctor prescribed a cholesterol drug to bring levels down, you'll still need to change your diet and become more active for heart health. These simple tips can help you keep cholesterol levels in check.

Cholesterol, Good and Bad
Your body needs a small amount of cholesterol to function properly. But we may get too much saturated fat and cholesterol in our diet, and both raise levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in arteries, leading to heart disease. HDL "good" cholesterol, on the other hand, helps clear bad cholesterol from your blood. You want to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, starting with your diet.


Portion Control: Lend a Hand
Many Americans eat supersized meals, with portions that are twice the size recommended for good health. That can contribute to weight gain and high cholesterol. Here's an easy way to practice portion control for a meal: Use your hand. One serving of meat or fish is about what fits in the palm of your hand. One serving of fresh fruit is about the size of your fist. And a serving of cooked vegetables, rice, or pasta should fit in your cupped hand.


Serve Up the Heart-Healthy Food

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Load your plate with fruits and vegetables -- five to nine servings a day -- to help lower LDL "bad" cholesterol. Antioxidants in these foods may provide the benefit. Or it may be that when we eat more fruits and veggies, we eat less fatty foods. Either way, you'll also help lower blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. Foods enriched with plant sterols, such as some margarine spreads, yogurts, and other foods, can also help lower LDL cholesterol.


For Heart Health, Look to the Sea
A heart-healthy diet has fish on the menu twice a week. Why? Fish is low in saturated fat and high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help lower levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. They may also help lower cholesterol, slowing the growth of plaque in arteries. Go for fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines. Just don't drop the fillets in the deep fryer -- you'll undo the health benefits.


Start Your Day With Whole Grains

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A bowl of oatmeal or other whole-grain cereal has benefits that last all day. The fiber and complex carbohydrates in whole grains help you feel fuller for longer, so you'll be less tempted to overeat at lunch. They also help lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and can help you lose weight. Other examples of whole grains include wild rice, popcorn, brown rice, and barley.


Go Nuts for Heart Health
Need a snack? A handful of nuts is a tasty treat that helps in lowering cholesterol. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL "bad" cholesterol while leaving HDL "good" cholesterol intact. Several studies show that people who eat about an ounce of nuts a day are less likely to get heart disease. Nuts are high in fat and calories, so eat only a handful. And make sure they're not covered in sugar or chocolate.


Unsaturated Fats Protect the Heart
We all need a little fat in our diet -- about 25% to 35% of our daily calories. But the type of fat matters. Unsaturated fats -- like those found in canola, olive, and safflower oils -- help lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels and may help raise HDL "good" cholesterol. Saturated fats -- like those found in butter and palm oil -- and trans fats raise LDL cholesterol. Even good fats have calories, so eat in moderation.


More Beans, Fewer Potatoes
You need carbohydrates for energy, but some do your body more good than others. Beans, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat, have more fiber and raise sugar levels less. These help lower cholesterol and keep you feeling full longer. Other carbs, like those found in white bread, white potatoes, white rice, and pastries, boost blood sugar levels more quickly, leading you to feel hungry sooner, and may make you more likely to overeat.


(From www.webmd.com)



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