We are all aware of the dangers of high cholesterol. The increased risks that accompany high cholesterol, such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease, run rampant in our country. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States, followed by cancer at number 2 and stroke at number 3. The American Heart Association estimates that over 2,100 Americans die of cardiovascular disease every day, which is an average of one death every 40 seconds. Luckily, high cholesterol is not a death sentence! We've compiled a list of helpful tips to help you keep those numbers down!
One of the most effective ways to lower your cholesterol is to avoid certain foods that contain saturated fats or trans fats. For a list of 33 Heart Healthy Foods, click here!
Saturated fats: Include items like red meat, whole milk and other dairy products, fried foods, and processed meats such as sausage or bologna. (via Harvard Health Publications)
Trans fats: Trans fats consist of food like french fries (or anything fried or battered, for that matter), margarine sticks, cake mixes and frosting, and microwave popcorn. (via Health Magazine)
You can also try to supplement your diet by eating foods that will naturally lower your cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends sticking to a diet that consists primarily of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Look for foods that lower cholesterol by:
Delivering soluble fiber: It's important to consume about 25-30 grams of soluble fiber a day. We recommend eating oats, barley, whole grains, beans, eggplant and okra to supplement a heart-healthy diet.
Lowering LDL: LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is more commonly referred to as "bad cholesterol." Foods that are high in polysaturated fats, like nuts, apples, grapes, citrusy fruits, and fatty fish, are known to lower LDL.
Providing sterols and stanols: Sterols and stanols regulate the body's ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Margarine, granola bars, orange juice, and chocolate (in moderation!) are all helpful in abolishing cholesterol. (via Harvard Health Publications)
Last but not least, exercise is a key element in lowering high cholesterol. Those who are overweight and do not exercise tend to have decreased circulation of fat in their blood stream, which contributes to high cholesterol. Also, excess weight can boost LDL levels. LDL will then clog the arteries and could lead to heart attacks or strokes. A simple workout, three to four times a week, is a great way to keep your cholesterol under control! (via Health Magazine)
Just because high cholesterol isn't necessarily a death sentence doesn't mean you can afford to wait to get help. The sooner you get your cholesterol levels under control through a healthy diet and exercise, the better you will feel! For more tips on how to monitor your cholesterol, click here.
>> Read more: 5 Foods to Lower Cholesterol