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Top 10 Ways to Maintain Healthy Cholesterol

This week on Top Ten Tuesdays: Cholesterol


Cholesterol Clogged Artery

Cholesterol doesn’t need much of an introduction. Too much in our body can lead to several health problems, most notably life-threatening coronary heart disease. This occurs because too much Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol slowly builds up on artery walls. Not all cholesterol is bad though. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol actually has the opposite effect. HDL carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body.  So here’s ten ways to ensure the proper balance of LDL and HDL.

1.  Eat Oats
Oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain.  One type of soluble fiber, beta-glucans, has proven to help lower cholesterol.  The FDA recommends 3g of soluble fiber daily, which is found in about 1/2 cup of oats.

2.  Exercise
Exercise will speed up your blood flow which will help reduce the risk of inflammation and clogging of your arteries.  Try get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day.  It doesn’t have to be intense exercise either, benefits can be seen even from moderate activity such as walking.  

3.  Cook without adding fat
When you use cooking oils, you are probably (depending on the oil) adding a lot of fat to your meal.  Use no/low fat methods such as steaming, boiling, poaching, roasting, baking, and broiling.

4.  Eat more fish
Not only are fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, they will help you reduce your overall intake of saturated fats and cholesterol by replacing other meats on your plate.  Try to eat fish at least 2-3 times/week.

5. Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3’s will lower LDL.  Some of the best sources include nuts (particularly walnuts and almonds), fish, and flaxseed and chia seeds.

6. Fiber
Fiber, in any form, has cholerterol fighting properties.  Both insoluble and soluble have been shown to be effective, with soluble having a greater effect. Research shows 15g of soluble fiber a day can lower LDL choleterol by 5% to 10%.

7. Don’t eat trans fats
Trans fats can be found in many fried foods and commercially baked products such as cookies and crackers. Even foods labeled as “No Trans Fat” may contain up to .5g of trans fat.  Check the ingredients, if the food has trans fats if it contains partially hydrogenated oils.

8. Limit your high cholesterol foods
This should be a no brainer.  Organ meats, egg yolks, whole milk, and butter contain the highest concentrations of cholesterol.  Eat smaller and leaner portions of meat, substitute extra egg whites for yolks, and drink skim milk to help reduce daily consumption of cholesterol.


9. Cook with olive oil
Olive oil has been shown to lower LDL and raise HDL.  When cooking, substitute olive oil for butter or oils high in saturated fat such as vegetable or peanut.  It also makes a great topping for salads or toast.

10. Track your progress
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health recommends adults check their cholesterol at least every five years, and more often if they indicate risk factors of high cholesterol.  But you should be tracking your progress every day.  Take note of how often you are exercising and eating right and set goals. 

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