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What To Eat When You Have High Cholesterol
What you eat can play an important part in lowering your cholesterol. Eat healthily and keep your levels of 'bad cholesterol' low and you can reduce the risk of serious conditions such as a heart attack or stroke.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat which is produced by the liver. It can be found in the outer layer of every cell in our body. It is carried in your body by proteins. When cholesterol and proteins combine, they are called liboproteins. There are two kinds of liboproteins:
- Low-density liboprotein (LDL): This is sometimes known as 'bad cholesterol.' LDL carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. If there is too much for the cells to use, it can build up on the artery walls which can lead to disease of the arteries.
- High-density liboprotein (HDL): This is sometimes called 'good cholesterol.' HDL carries cholesterol back from your cells and back to your liver, where it can be broken down or passed out of your body as waste.
What are the Dangers of High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the flow of blood around your body. A high cholesterol level can increase the likelihood of a blood clot developing. It can raise the chance of you having coronary heart disease. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Levels?
To lower your cholesterol levels, you should adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- Get some exercise. Playing sport, going to the gym or doing any other kind of aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Quit smoking. There is a chemical in cigarettes called acrolein which stops HDL from transporting LDL to the liver. This leads to narrowing of the arteries
- Cut down on saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats can be found in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils raise.Trans fats can be found in margarines, store bought cookies, crackers and cakes, meat pies, sausages, butter, cream, hard cheese, cakes and biscuits.
- Think about the way you prepare food. Try microwaving, steaming, poaching, boiling or grilling, instead of roasting or frying. Choose lean cuts of meat and go for low-fat varieties of dairy products and spreads.
- Test your cholesterol levels. If you have been diagnosed with heat disease, are overweight are over forty, you should get your blood cholesterol level tested. It's important to keep a check on your levels, so you know if you need to take some action.
How a Healthy Diet Can Help You Lower Your Cholesterol
Eating healthily doesn't have to be boring. There are plenty of great food options for somebody who wants to take care of themselves. The American Heart Association Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook has over 200 recipes for delicious dishes, such as Garlic Chicken Fillets in Balsamic Vinegar, Peppery Beef with Blue Cheese Sauce and Sweet Potatoes in Creamy Cinnamon Sauce.
What Food Can I Eat to Lower My Cholesterol?
- Foods with Added Plant Sterols or Stanols. These smart foods have added plant sterols or stanols, naturally occurring molecules which stop your body from absorbing cholesterol. You can buy spreads and yogurts with added plant stanols. With Benecol Coffee Mix you can even get an instant coffee which can reduce your cholesterol level.
- Oatmeal. Oats contain compounds called beta glucans. These beta glucans form a thick gel inside the digestive tract. This then binds to cholesterol in the gut, stopping cholesterol from being absorbed by the body.
- Walnuts, Almonds and Other Nuts. It is not certain how nuts lower cholesterol, but it may have something to do with the fact that they contain plant sterols which protect blood vessels from damage. Nuts are a healthy snack, but be sure to avoid the salted varieties.
- Soya. Soya milk, soy nuts, tofu and soya yogurts may help the liver to remove ‘bad cholesterol' from your bloodstream.
- Olive Oil. Replacing saturated fat such as lard and butter with olive oil can reduce cholesterol. It may also stop LDL causing inflammation in the arteries.