High cholesterol is one of the most common conditions in the country. Diets full of processed food “substitutes” wreak havoc on your healthy cholesterol levels and also your overall health. Cholesterol is a necessary and important substance in the body, but when LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) gets out of control, then many systems in the body are negatively affected. This leads to the development of a variety of health conditions and an overall negative effect on your cardiac health.
Let’s take a look at what cholesterol is as well as the two main types of cholesterol in the body:
Good And Bad Cholesterol
It is important to understand what cholesterol is and also to understand that not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol plays a vital role in your ability to build healthy cells, and your body simply couldn’t function without it. But, not all cholesterol is the same.
There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” type of cholesterol that can cause issues when levels become too high in the body. On the other hand, HDL, or the “good cholesterol”, actually helps remove that bad cholesterol from your bloodstream. If you have high cholesterol levels, it usually means you have too much LDL and not enough HDL.
Tips From Primary Care Doctors To Reduce Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels affect about one in every three Americans, but there are changes you can make today to help lower your LDL and increase your HDL.
1. Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are a common ingredient in mass-produced foods found at grocery stores and at fast-food restaurants. You can spot these fats on nutrition labels under ingredients, such as hydrogenated oils, which are used to make food last longer. These trans fats can throw cholesterol levels out of whack if you are not careful. There is a reason everyone says trans fats are bad for you!
One of the most potent ways to reduce your cholesterol is to utilize the body’s natural defense systems. Exercise is one of the best options to improve every aspect of your health. It also can help to reduce bad cholesterol levels, create healthier blood flow, and improve your immune health. Be careful, though, because exercise only works if your diet is healthy as well.
3. Eat Lean Meats
Lean meats are great for providing healthy protein and fats without too much fat. Fish is one of the best lean meats you can eat because it is low in unhealthy fats and high in protein and healthy fats. Additionally, lean meat is good for your brain, your energy, and can help to remove bad cholesterol from your system. Try substituting chicken or fish for ground beef and steak more often and you will begin to see a noticeable improvement over time!
4. Focus On Consuming “Real” Foods
One of the best tips that you can get from physicians and dieticians is to focus on the types of food that you are consuming. Where are these foods coming from? How were they produced? If the answer is mass-produced or in a factory, chances are they are not that healthy for you. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and other fruits and vegetables that are fresh (and local, if possible), are always the healthiest choice. Studies show that those who cook from home with whole, natural ingredients are much less likely to develop high cholesterol or become overweight.
5. Get More Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is another tool that can help to fight bad cholesterol levels and replace the bad with the good. Contrary to popular belief, fiber is necessary for more than just good digestive health. It is actually one of the most effective heart-healthy nutrients you can consume. A low-cholesterol food list is rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber grabs cholesterol in your gut and helps lower bad LDL cholesterol levels.
Foods rich in soluble fiber include oats, quinoa, whole-grain bread, kidney beans, lentils, and also a majority of fruits and vegetables.
6. Cook At Home With Healthy Oils
The oils you cook with can also provide you with the healthy fats your body needs to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Try substituting butter and vegetable oil for avocado and olive oil. This will not only be healthier, but will also help you to get a better sear and flavor on the meats you cook!
7. Avoid Smoking And Drinking
Smoking and drinking are bad for every aspect of your health. If you are trying to cut cholesterol, then drinking and smoking will only make this process much more difficult.
8. Try Vegetarian Meals
Throwing in a vegetarian meal every once in a while will give your digestive system a much-needed break. It also can help to give your body the ability to break down and get rid of bad cholesterol. Meat takes more energy for your body to break down, so consuming it multiple times a day can increase unhealthy cholesterol and also cause inflammation throughout the body.
9. Embrace Intermittent Fasting
Giving your digestive system some time to rest is great for your overall health. Fasting periodically, while difficult at times, is actually very healthy for your body. It allows your digestive system to reset and correct itself instead of having to constantly be in the process of digesting.
10. Create A Plan With Your Primary Care Doctors
Speaking with your primary care doctors can help you to pinpoint improvements that need to be made. A guided plan, along with diet and exercise, can lead to improved cholesterol levels.
Work With The Primary Care Doctors At Imperial Center Family Medicine
Imperial Center Family Medicine is a healthcare practice that has been meeting the medical needs of families in the triangle area since 1999. Their experienced providers offer primary and preventative services to help manage the ongoing health and wellness needs of children, teens, and adults. Reach out today to schedule an appointment.