Improve Cholesterol with Diet: Try Some Simple Dietary Changes to Improve Your Cholesterol

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While there are medications on the market, available by prescription, to aid in the reduction of cholesterol levels, most of these medications have long-term negative effects on the liver and other systems in the body. The safest and easiest way to control overall cholesterol is by making dietary adjustments that will change the cholesterol levels and get your body working for you again. While it is important to refrain from over indulging of foods that will increase your cholesterol level, new medical information shows that simple additions to your diet can dramatically improve your cholesterol level, without eliminating all of your favorite foods or making dramatic lifestyle changes.

Ignoring a High Blood Cholesterol Diagnosis

Ignoring a high blood cholesterol diagnosis can lead to hardening of the arteries and eventual heart attack or stroke. When given results of a blood test to determine cholesterol levels, your doctor will give you three numbers, your overall cholesterol level, and the levels of your “good” and “bad” cholesterol. The ratio of good to bad cholesterol will determine if you need to take action to reduce your blood cholesterol level. It is, therefore, possible to have an overall cholesterol number that is considered high, but the majority of the breakdown is in good cholesterol, therefore posing no health risk.

LDL and HDL

Cholesterol cannot be dissolved in the blood, and therefore is carried to the cell tissues by lipoproteins. Low Density Lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as the “bad” cholesterol because it has the ability to stick to the inside of artery walls, becoming calcified and resulting in heart attack or stroke.

High Density Lipoprotein, or HDL, is the “good” cholesterol that freely moves to through the circulatory system and to the liver where it is expelled from the body. High levels of HDL will actually protect the body against circulatory problems by surrounding bad cholesterol components and buffering the inside of the arteries from their attachment. The HDL is therefore the mechanism used to transport the LDL to the liver safely.

While beneficial to attack a cholesterol problem on both fronts, it is much easier to concentrate on increasing the levels of HDL in the body than to exclusively try to reduce the LDL levels. Many of the foods and drinks we already consume are proven to increase HDL levels, and an increase in these dietary items can dramatically impact the overall ratio of good to bad cholesterol.

Raising HDL Levels through Diet

The following foods and beverages are suggested to improve your overall cholesterol ratios:

Alcohol – Drinking a glass of red wine per day significantly raises the levels of HDL in the blood stream, improving overall circulation.

Monounsaturated Fats – Adding peanut butter to your diet, and cooking with canola oil, avocado oil, and olive oil are extremely good ways to increase HDL cholesterol without increasing the LDL level along with it.

Fiber – Increasing fiber intake is an excellent way to reduce the levels of LDL by aiding in digestion and flushing cholesterol impurities out of the system. A great way to accomplish this is by eating oats, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

Cranberry Juice - Drinking of 4 glasses of cranberry juice per week as part of a cholesterol altering diet has been shown to increase HDL levels.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish, and a cholesterol lowering diet including as little as 2 servings of fish per week can result in increase of HDL levels.

Implementing the above dietary suggestions along with moderate aerobic exercise, of about 20 minutes 3 times a week, can dramatically impact the overall ratio of good to bad cholesterol as well as your overall health, without dramatically impacting your overall lifestyle.

Sources

WebMD.com from the article: Your Lower Cholesterol Toolbox reviewed October 2008

Mayoclinic.com from the article: Top 5 lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol Published May 2008

Americanheart.org from the article: Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet Last updated April 4, 2008