Yummy Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol
High cholesterol can become a problem at almost any age, but your risk for developing it increases as you get older. For women, high cholesterol can especially become a problem after menopause. Luckily, there are ways to prevent high cholesterol or lower it right in your kitchen.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all your body’s cells. Your body needs cholesterol to function, but having too much of it in your blood could cause buildup in your arteries or even block them completely. This can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke, which older adults are also more at risk of developing. More than 42 million Americans over age 60 have at least one form of cardiovascular disease.
There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and HDL (“good” cholesterol). LDL cholesterol comes from eating saturated fat and can clog your arteries. On the other hand, having higher levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. So what can you eat to lower your bad cholesterol and increase the good stuff?
The good guys: Foods that help lower or manage your cholesterol levels
- Fiber: Foods high in fiber prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. Try whole-grain oatmeal and oat bran. Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and prunes are good sources of fiber. Try kidney beans, lentils, chick peas and lima beans. Also try supplements for added fiber.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables have compounds that help lower your cholesterol levels and keep daily saturated fat intake low. Many of them also contain fiber for added benefits. Bonus: Avocado is a “heart-healthy” fat that is good to eat in moderation.
- Fish: Fish doesn’t lower your cholesterol levels, but it is a good source of healthy cholesterol. Fish are nutrient rich and protect your heart from blood clots and inflammation, which can reduce your risk for heart attack. Try fish that are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna and mackerel. For a tasty idea to help you manage your cholesterol, check out the American Heart Association’s recipe for crunchy salmon filets below.
The bad guys: Foods to stay away from
- Salt: Limiting your sodium (salt) intake will reduce your risk for heart disease by helping to lower your blood pressure. You should limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) of salt per day. This includes salt that you add to your food and salt already included in your food. Try choosing low sodium or “no added salt” foods and seasonings.
- Fried and Processed Foods: Processed foods are high in saturated fats, sugars and salt. Try eating fresh foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Butter: Instead of butter, try using vegetable oils. Canola, sunflower and safflower are good replacements.
- Whole-Fat Dairy: Whole-fat dairy is high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Look for low-fat yogurt and cheese, 1-percent or skim milk and low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt and ice cream.
- High Fat Meats: Look for lean meats such as beef sirloin or pork tenderloin. Eat portions less than 3 ounces.
- Eggs: Eggs have cholesterol but will not heavily affect the cholesterol levels in your arteries. However, if you are at a high risk for diabetes or have heart disease, then you should limit yourself to three eggs per week. If you like eggs but don’t want the added cholesterol, try egg whites. Egg whites are cholesterol free.
Tips when shopping for food
- Look at nutrition labels when buying food. The nutrition label will have all the information about how much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, sugar and sodium is in the product.
- Shop around the perimeter of the store. This is where you usually find produce, lean meats, nuts and low-fat dairy.
- Shop when you are full. You will be less likely to buy foods that are high in sugar and salt when you are not hungry.
- When shopping for meat, meats labeled “prime” are higher in fat. Look for meats labeled “choice” or “select”.
What else can you do to help manage your cholesterol?
- Stay active: You should exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise will help circulate your bloodstream and improve your overall heath.
- Stop smoking: Just like having high cholesterol levels, smoking can clog and block your arteries. Smoking can increase your risk for heart disease or even a heart attack.
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs: If diet and exercise don’t help lower your cholesterol, there are medications that could help. Talk to your doctor to find out if they could be right for you.
Try out this heart-healthy recipe for crunchy-crusted salmon fillets
- 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each)
- ½ cup uncooked quick-cooking oatmeal
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Pour the buttermilk into a dish. Add the fish, turning to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 10 minutes to 1 hour.
- In a medium shallow dish, stir together the coating ingredients. Set aside.
- When the fish has finished marinating, preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Take the fillets out of the buttermilk mixture and coat with the oat mixture.
- Place on a baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the coated fillets with cooking spray.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
*For variety, try this with a different fish..
For more heart-healthy meals, check out the American Heart Association’s recipes for cholesterol management.
Filed under: Medicare News