05 May 2010

Reduce bad cholesterol with dietary changes and exercise


Cholesterol Myths – both Good and Bad

Most people think that cholesterol is always bad but there are actually two types of cholesterol. LDL is considered the "bad" cholesterol, and HDL is considered the "good" cholesterol. If there is too much LDL in our bloodstream, it will form plaque on our arteries and over time this narrows our arteries and can eventually block blood flow completely. Dietary cholesterol actually isn't the primary reason for high cholesterol in the blood; it is high amounts of saturated fat and trans fat. To keep cholesterol low, you should eat unsaturated fats, eat fibrous foods, exercise more and have your cholesterol levels checked regularly.

Cholesterol Numbers and What They Mean

On an average, adults will usually need to have cholesterol checks every five years. Each time you get a cholesterol check it will yield four results – total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and Triglycerides. You will probably need more exercise and dietary change if you go above or below the healthy levels.

Total Cholesterol - less than 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L)
LDL Cholesterol - less than 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L)
HDL Cholesterol - greater than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L)
Triglycerides - less than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)

Protecting Your Heart with Vitamin E

You can find Vitamin E in many nuts, leafy vegetables and vegetable oils. While it cannot prevent a stroke, Vitamin E can still reduce your risk for heart disease.

Top 4 Super Foods to Lower Cholesterol
1. Oatmeal and Oat Bran: These contain a high amount of soluble fiber, which can lower LDL.
2. Nuts: Not only are nuts high in fiber, but they contain the healthy fats you need to keep LDL in check.
3. Plant Sterols: This is found in foods like margarine, salad dressing, orange juice, and functional cookies. 2 grams per day will lower your LDL by 10-15%.
4. Soy: This popular meat replacement can lower LDL by up to 3%.

Benefits You Get from Plant Sterols

Foods such as VitaTops Muffin Tops, Benecol Spread and granola bars are sources of plant sterols. You can easily help your heart when you start eating foods packed with plant sterols and avoid eating foods that contain saturated fats. A saturated fat-filled diet is not canceled out by this alone, so keep in mind that exercising often as well as eating healthy food will keep your cholesterol in check.

This Dish Is Veg Contributor Deborah H. Land writes for the low cholesterol diet menu blog, her personal hobby website she uses to help people eat healthy to lower bad cholesterol levels.

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Photo Credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/canadapenguin