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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fighting High Cholesterol Through Your Diet

Did you know that 14% of American adults have high cholesterol? If you've been reading some of my posts, you know that I was recently diagnosed with high cholesterol (290) and high triglycerides (192). High cholesterol does run in my family on my mother's side and though some members of my family were given medication to help reduce it, it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. We're just predisposed to it I guess. I don't have to take medication yet, but I do have to take measures to help reduce it like losing weight, exercising regularly (which has been tough to get into the habit consistently I might add), and limit intake of high cholesterol foods and saturated fats. 

That last one I had to do a little research on. I knew what the the big culprits are, but I wanted to find out if I was missing something. Here is what I found. First, you should have a blood test given by your doctor every 5 years to test your cholesterol levels if you haven't already. Then meet with your practitioner to determine what the best course of action is for you.
  • Total Cholesterol should be under 200mg
  • LDL (Bad) Cholesterol should be under 100 mg
  • HDL (Good) Cholesterol should be 40 mg or higher
  • Triglycerides should be under 150mg
Too much cholesterol can also lead to narrowing of the coronary arteries, heart disease, angina, and/or heart attack. It is recommended that you should limit your average daily cholesterol intake to less than 300mg; however, if you have been diagnosed with heart disease, it should be reduced to less than 200mg per day.  

As far as food, here are the Top 10 culprits of high cholesterol: 
  1. Egg Yolks-Contain 210mg cholesterol in 1 egg yolk (212mg in an entire egg)
  2. Caviar-Contains 94mg per tablespoon
  3. Liver, Pate & Foie Gras-Cholesterol is manufactured by the liver so it stands to reason that eating liver would be extremely high. In fact, 100g of liver contains 564mg of cholesterol
  4. Butter-1 tablespoon contains 30mg of cholesterol. When possible, use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil as a substitution. 
  5. Shrimp-1 large shrimp contains 11mg of cholesterol
  6. Breakfast Fast Food-Ham, Egg & Cheese Sandwich on a Biscuit contains 172mg of cholesterol per 100g 
  7. Oil Packed Fish-Sardines contain 131mg of cholesterol per can
  8. Cheese-Port de Salut has the most cholesterol at 123mg per 100g serving or 21mg per 1" cube
  9. Processed Meats(Sausage)-Bratwurst contains 62mg of cholesterol per link
  10. Shellfish(Oysters, Clams, Mussels)-Wild Eastern Oysters have the most cholesterol at 30mg per ounce or 7mg per oyster
After seeing this list, I was happy to realize that I only consume #4 and #8 in my regular diet and even then I use them sparingly. Next, I wanted to see what foods can help lower my "bad" or LDL cholesterol. Here are the Top 10 Cholesterol Lowering Foods: 
  1. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats-These include extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, peanuts, olives and avocado. 
  2. Bran (Oat & Rice)-Switch to whole oatmeal in the morning for breakfast and brown rice instead of white. 
  3. Flax Seeds-These little seeds have been shown to reduce cholesterol by up to 14% by incorporating them into homemade baked goods, oatmeal, cereal or smoothies. 
  4. Garlic
  5. Almonds-Not to exceed 1 cup per day and can reduce cholesterol up to 10%. These should be in the raw form and not roasted or salted. 
  6. Lycopene Foods-Any fruit or vegetable that is red in color; such as tomatoes or watermelon. 
  7. Walnuts & Pistachios
  8. Whole Barley
  9. Dark Chocolate
  10. Green Tea-East Asia believed that this tea washes the oils (fats) out of the body. Drink green tea plain with no added sweeteners or milk. By drinking this plain, you also get the benefits of drinking your 8 glasses of daily water intake. 
My diet consists of many of these foods already, but not consistently or the proper amounts. I plan on incorporating more of these servings into my diet in the coming months to see if it really makes a difference. I think it's not just one course of action, but making all the lifestyle changes at once and seeing them work in conjunction together. 

Have you had your cholesterol checked? 
What methods have worked for you in reducing your LDL?

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