Cholesterol Lowering Diet, Benefits Your Overall Health
Losing weight is not the only reason why people make changes to their diet. The food we eat has an effect on our health, so choosing the right diet can help lower or eliminate certain health problems. A cholesterol lowering diet is good example. If you have problems with your cholesterol, then what you eat can have a positive effect on your overall health.
High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors (such as high blood pressure or diabetes) as well as high cholesterol, this risk increases even more. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Also, the greater the level of each risk factor, the more that factor affects your overall risk.
If you are not yet on medication for cholesterol, then a diet may prevent you from having to get a prescription. In most cases, once you start taking medicine to control your cholesterol levels, you need to keep taking it. So, it makes a lot of sense to do whatever you can to get your cholesterol under control using natural methods.
NOTE: Always consult your doctor before changing your diet, and never change how you take medicine (that includes stopping or altering your dose) without first consulting your personal physician. They will know your personal health history and be able to help you develop a plan of action that’s best for you.
Cholesterol occurs in fats known as lipids. It’s soft and waxy and serves some beneficial services in the body. It isn’t dissolved in the bloodstream, and is moved from cell to cell by lipoproteins. It’s these lipoproteins that are measured when your cholesterol is checked. The main ones that are being screened for are high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein (HDL and LDL for short, respectively).
A cholesterol lowering diet helps to lower the amount of LDL, which is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. That’s because this is the kind that builds up in the arteries and creates plaque. This slows down the flow of blood to all parts of the body, including the brain and heart. If the flow of blood slows too much or a clot is formed, then it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. For the record, these are two of the leading causes of death, so getting your cholesterol under control could save your life.
The main component of a cholesterol lowering diet is increasing fiber intake. A breakfast of 1.5 cups of oatmeal (don’t use instant oatmeal) topped with a sliced banana will give you a great start toward getting enough fiber for the day. Have a salad at lunch and garnish it with an ounce or two of almonds or walnuts for a healthy boost of fiber.
The other nutrient that helps manage your cholesterol is omega-3 fatty acids. The best animal source of these is fish (especially salmon), while flax seed is the best plant source. Having grilled or baked fish a few times a week, and sprinkling flax seed on various foods will give you a good amount of omega-3s.
The final element of a cholesterol lowering diet is finding foods that contain sterols. Nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes and wheat germ are good food sources of sterols, but it’s hard to get all you need every day. The good news is that you can by sterol-fortified margarine, juice, energy bars and cookies. You have to admit that any eating plan that lets you eat cookies is one that will be easy to stick to.
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