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Need Help Managing Your Cholesterol? Here are the Top 11 Ways!

Need Help Managing Your Cholesterol? Here are the Top 11 Ways!

Despite a national awareness campaign aimed at getting consumers to decrease dietary fat and high cholesterol foods, cholesterol problems plague millions of Americans. In fact, cholesterol lowering medications are the No. 1 prescribed drug in the United States. The good news is if your cholesterol is healthy you can help maintain it with various methods which I describe below. But first, let’s cover a few cholesterol basics.

The Cholesterol Facts

Cholesterol: White, waxy, oily, fatty substance made by your body and also found in animal fats such as meat, dairy and eggs. Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is essential for proper brain function, protects cells against free radicals and helps the body's production of vitamin D and hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Cholesterol doesn’t mix with your blood, so it must combine with other proteins called lipoproteins (LDL or HDL) to circulate through your blood. High cholesterol can be caused by what you eat, what you weigh, your activity level, age, gender, family history, medications, and smoking.

LDL “Bad” Cholesterol: Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) that transport cholesterol to your body’s tissues. LDL cholesterol becomes harmful when it gets oxidized (think a browning apple) by free radicals. Too much LDL cholesterol is bad for your heart, arteries and overall health.

HDL “Good” Cholesterol: High-density lipoproteins (HDL) scavenge LDL cholesterol and transport it to your liver for breakdown into harmless substances. Your body can do this, but the process requires nutrients often missing from modern diets. This is why you want to raise your body’s levels of HDL cholesterol, because it can help protect your heart.

Triglycerides: Most fats in your body, as well as in foods, exist in this chemical form. What most people don’t know is triglycerides are found in blood plasma and, along with cholesterol, form plasma lipids. Excess triglycerides may damage your health, especially your heart.

Top 11 Ways to Manage Your Cholesterol

  1. Less Trans Fats, More Fiber. The leading heart-health experts state that diets high in trans fats and saturated fats can lead to clogged, unhealthy arteries. This means steer clear of trans fats like margarine, vegetable shortening and saturated fats like butter and meat fats. Instead eat more fiber-rich foods like beans, oats, fruits and vegetables. All beans are protein-packed and a great alternative to meat. At the same time, add more fiber to your diet. Psyllium is one source that’s been shown to support healthy cholesterol and is readily available in supplement form.
  2. Move Around. While you don’t have to sign up for the Boston Marathon, just 15 minutes of brisk walking daily can help your body fight cholesterol and support heart health. Start slowly and build up.
  3. Read Food Labels. When grocery shopping, aim to keep saturated fat below one gram per serving and total fat less than four grams per serving. Recently I was shocked at how much saturated fat was in something as “healthy” as a veggie burger.
  4. Know Your Numbers. Rising cholesterol levels have been associated with heart attacks. That’s why you should have your cholesterol levels regularly checked and work with your doctor on a plan that’s right for you.
  5. Give Supplements a Try. Look for high quality supplements that are specifically developed for maintaining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Ideally they should contain time-tested ingredients as well as newly researched nutrients.
  6. Snack Frequently. Keep healthy low fat snacks handy when hunger strikes. This will lessen your desire for hitting the drive-thru for a burger and fries.
  7. Go Fish. There is a class of fats that are so important to your health they’re called “essential.” I’m talking about essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omegas 3, 6 and 9 that are found in cold water fish like salmon and mackerel. EFAs support a healthy heart and cholesterol levels.
  8. Quit Smoking. It appears that smoking not only increases the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, it also depletes HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In addition, it damages arteries and raises platelet counts which make blood stickier.
  9. Spice it Up. Certain spices naturally combat cholesterol including: garlic, onions, fenugreek, ginger, cumin, cloves, and mint. These spices also help burn fats and in turn help lower cholesterol levels. Best of all they add wonderful flavor to your foods.
  10. Drink in Moderation. Drinking moderate amounts of red wine, especially with meals appears to increase HDL “good” cholesterol levels while also sweeping cholesterol deposits out of cells in the arteries.
  11. Use Olive Oil. Olive oil, which is extracted from olive fruits, is naturally better than oil from animal fat. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats which do not get deposited on the walls for the arteries. Instead olive oil is immediately absorbed and used by the body.

Implementing a few of the ideas above could go a long way to helping you manage your cholesterol levels naturally. Give them a try today!