Making gradual and permanent changes in your diet and lifestyle can help you lower your cholesterol levels. Not only will these changes reduce your risk for developing heart disease, but they will also reduce your risk for other serious conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
The main lifestyle changes to help you lower your cholesterol levels are: Reduce fat and cholesterol in your diet. Eat more foods rich in carbohydrates and fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Increase your level of physical activity. Maintain a healthy body weight. In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, if you smoke cigarettes or have high blood pressure, quitting smoking or moderating your sodium intake can also significantly reduce risk for heart disease.
REDUCING TOTAL FAT
Ounce for ounce, fat contains over twice the calories that protein or carbohydrates do. So even if saturated fat is the type of fat most likely to raise harmful blood cholesterol levels, you should limit intake of all fats. Eating too much fat, no matter what kind, can make you put on excess weight. Eating too much fat can also increase your risk of certaintypes of cancer, such as breast or colon cancer.
To limit total fat intake, broil, bake, boil, or roast foods rather than fry.
Use non-stick pans or coat, pans with a thin layer of non-stick spray.
Add less fat to food during both cooking and eating. Some examples include using jam instead of margarine on toast, a non-fat or low-fat salad dressing instead of a high-fat dressing, lemon juice instead of butter on vegetables, or salsa instead of sour cream on baked potatoes.
Look for low-fat alternatives to foods, such as a bagel instead of a doughnut, pretzels instead of potato chips, or a round steak instead of a T-bone steak.
Read labels, which offer excellent information to help you compare fat content of prepared foods.
REDUCE YOUR SATURATED FAT AND CHOLESTEROL INTAKE.
To reduce the fat and cholesterol intake in your diet, start with changes that are relatively easy to make. For example, many people find it easy to switch from 2% milk to 1% or skim milk. Once you have adjusted to one change, pick another change to work on.
Here are some simple changes that will help your greatly reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.
Eat no more than three eggs yolks weekly. Eat as many egg whites as you like- they contain no cholesterol.
Buy lean meats such as fish, poultry, veal cutlet, pork tenderloin, or flank steak.
Trim as much fat off meat as possible. Broil, barbecue, or roast meat on a rack rather than fry them. This allows some of the fat to escape during cooking.
Limit the amount of hamburger you eat, and buy the leanest type available.
Replace high-fat prepared meats like sausage and luncheon meats with lower-fat meats like lean turkey or chicken.
Remove the skin from chicken or turkey before you cook or eat it.
Try to eat fish twice weekly. Fish contains a type of fat called omega-3 fat that may help prevent heart disease.
Use margarine instead of butter, choosing a margarine that has a liquid oil rather than a hydrogenated oil listed as the first ingredient.
Choose a lower-fat milk. If you use whole milk, switch to 2%. If you use 2%, switch to 1$ or skim milk. (All types of milks have the same amount of calcium and other vitamins and minerals.)
Cut down on the amount of regular cheeses you eat. Look for lower-fat cheese that contains less than 3 grams of fat per ounce.
Check food labels to see what the main type of fat in the food is. Limit foods that list palm oil, coconut oil, or a hydrogenated oil as one of the first type of fats.
Be suspicious of commercial baked goods such as doughnuts, sweet rolls, brownies, and cookies, which are a major source of saturated fat.
About 60% of the saturated fat in a typical Western diet comes from three food sources: hamburger, cheese, whole milk. Cutting down on these foods, or cutting them out, can go a long way towards helping you cut down saturated fat and cholesterol.
INCREASE YOUR STARCHES AND FIBER
Including more starches and fiber in your diet can help you lower your cholesterol level, as well as reduce your risk for obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and other diseases. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and legumes are naturally low in fat, cholesterol-free, and rich in starches and dietary fiber.
A certain type of dietary fiber, called soluble fiber, may help lower cholesterol levels by sweeping cholesterol out of the body before it gets into the bloodstream.
Foods rich in soluble fiber include oat bran, dried beans and peas, some fruits, and psyllium seeds.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds also contain antioxidants, which are substances that help protect body cells from damage.
Examples of antioxidants are: Vitamin C (in citrus fruits); Beta-carotene (in carrots); Vitamin E (in vegetable oils)
INCLUDE MORE STARCHES AND FIBER IN YOUR DIET:
Keep a food diary showing the number of servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains you get daily. If the number is low, gradually try to increase by adding fruits, vegetables, and grains you get daily. If the number is low, gradually try to increase servings of the groups lacking by adding fruits, vegetables, or whole grains as side dishes or snacks.
Buy breads and cereals that list a whole grain as the first ingredient – they contain more fiber and vitamins and minerals.
Whenever possible, choose raw fruits and vegetables rather than processed ones. Steam vegetables until crisp-tender, rather than boiling them until soft. Whenever possible, leave skin on fruits and vegetables.
Try including several meatless meals weekly.
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