Nutrition Articles

The Keys to Conquering Cholesterol

Do's and Don'ts for a Healthy Heart

786SHARES

Heart disease is a scary thing. In the face of dire risk factor statistics and horror stories about cholesterol, you can easily get rattled. You might feel overwhelmed by the whole cholesterol question, and feel like you face uninformed life and death decisions every time you sit down at the table.

But reducing your risk of heart disease is not an impossible task. All it takes is a few simple adjustments.

Your cholesterol level is determined by several factors, including your genetic makeup, your diet, and certain lifestyle choices. You can’t do anything about genes passed down from Grandpa Charlie, but you can change your future with a few new, heart-friendly lifestyle choices.

The list below contains several strategies to help you develop cholesterol-smart, heart-healthy habits. These nutritional do’s and don’ts won’t have you feeling deprived, or require you to train for a marathon. They will, however, make your heart very happy. And a happy heart has nothing to be afraid of.

DO watch your cholesterol intake. Dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol you eat) may raise blood cholesterol levels. Limit dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day.

DO limit the fat in your diet. A diet rich in fat encourages weight gain and may lead to elevated blood cholesterol levels.

DON’T eliminate all fat from your diet. You need some fat in your diet for good health. Fat adds pleasure to your meal and makes you feel satisfied after the meal. Fat also gives flavor, texture, and moisture to food.

DO choose olive oil and canola oil for salad dressing, sautéing vegetables, cooking and baking. They are rich in monounsaturated fat, the heart healthy fat.

DON’T forego seeds and nuts, like almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts. These are high in the healthy monounsaturated fats. A small handful 3-5 times a week can help prevent heart disease and increase your HDL (high density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol) levels.

DO find more soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help lower blood cholesterol levels. It is found in oats, rice, bran, barley, dried peas and beans, and certain fruits like prunes and apples.

DON’T overlook complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Choose more whole grain breads and cereals, pasta, brown rice, and dried beans and peas. Enjoy fruits and vegetables more often.

DON’T overindulge in salt. High blood pressure is associated with a diet high in sodium. Check labels carefully and watch the amount of salt you use in cooking and at the table.
Continued ›

Page 1 of 2   Next Page ›
786SHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

Connect With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • 1HEALTHLIFES
    This best about The Keys to Conquering Cholesterol and what Supplements To Lower Cholesterol

    please visit : http://1healthlif
    es.blogspot.c
    om/2013/10/be
    st-nutrition-
    supplements-to-lower.html - 9/1/2014 7:11:07 AM
  • KATSMEOW52
    Btw, I took a statin for years, as my cholesterol was very high and my numbers were not in a healthy ratio. It drastically brought my total cholesterol down, and I had no ill effects. As I was taking the lowest available dosage of the drug (10mg), I asked my MD if I could come off the meds for a while to see if I could control things with an improved diet and weight loss. I personally would take the statin again if the need arose. - 8/28/2014 10:16:43 AM
  • KATSMEOW52
    I didn't read all the responses, but agreed with most I did read -- fat is not the main problem, simple carbs are. The SAD is replete with an overabundance of sugar, and sugar seems to be the major culprit in a myriad of diseases. Cholesterol is necessary for us to properly function; it's a problem only when it's deposited on the artery walls, inhibiting blood flow, and current science attributes that to particular types of cholesterol. Keep your HDL high and your LDL low. I'm disappointed in the information presented in the article. - 8/28/2014 10:11:54 AM
  • As many others have pointed out, there is so much misinformation in this article. I suggest anyone with high cholesterol talk to more than one doctor and do some research. Many doctors are not up on the latest research and are going on what they learned in med school 20-30 years ago. - 8/28/2014 7:56:43 AM
  • MSHERER1622
    This article hits a nerve for me, and it's difficult to articulate why, but I'd say it is representative of a nutritional paradigm that gave us the low fat, high carb diet that has created a nation of overweight people, precipitated a diabetes epidemic and done nothing to reduce heart disease. And it represents a medical paradigm that treats symptoms rather than root causes, that treats biomarkers like diseases, and trusts pharmaceuticals to solve chronic health issues.

    To fix the article, you'd need to change the title, which implies that Cholesterol causes heart disease and is perhaps the sole or primary cause (the truth is vastly more complex). Then you'd need to add a line noting that consumption of sugar and processed carbs raises triglyceride levels, which has been shown to make cholesterol more atherogenic and contribute to metabolic syndrome. And you'd need to acknowledge that statins can increase insulin resistance, cause memory, muscle problems and cataracts in some people, and have a minor impact on all cause mortality. You'd need to at least acknowledge the role of systemic inflammation in chronic disease and note that sugar, processed carbs and grain oils are inflammatory, as is your own visceral fat. You'd need to acknowledge there is considerable interest among researchers in the role of the gut microbiota in metabolic diseases and caution people about unnecessary antibiotic use, artificial sweeteners, and other behaviors that affect gut health, And for people who have serious heart disease, you'd note that a vegan, nutrient dense diet can reverse heart disease. There, I feel much better.
    - 8/28/2014 7:15:58 AM
  • Just getting started with some seriousness. I'm a 45 year old female just released from an overnight stay at the hospital for fear of a heart attack! CONCLUSION...My Cholesterol needs to come down drastically. Please forgive me for not knowing all the right language..but my triclycerides(??) is 275 should be 150..and something else is 215 and should be 200. I've talked my Dr into giving me 3 months to begin a healthier diet and exercise to bring the levels drastically down. Otherwise in three months I will need to put on medication. This is something I want to avoid if I can. I want to have the opportunity to try to decrease the levels myself before I have to resort to the medication. So I need ALL the assistance with this I can get. Any suggestions is greatly appreciated! - 8/12/2014 4:05:24 PM
  • Weight gain is also caused by over consumption of simple carbohydrates NOT fat. - 7/1/2014 4:44:26 PM
  • #1 high dietary cholesterol does not equal high serum cholesterol
    #2 eating saturated fat DOES NOT equal poor lipid profiles
    # Lipitor, Crestor, all statins etc are dangerous to your health and only lower cholesterol in about 2% of people
    #3 POOR lipid profiles are caused by over consumption of simple carbohydrates. - 7/1/2014 4:43:17 PM
  • NJ_HOU
    Using olive oil to pan fry is a bad idea, most cooks go over 400 when frying so unless you are checking the temperature ... just use a high heat oil do yourself a favor.
    Below are 2 rather lengthy explanations and the issue is related to Smoke Point
    the first is from livestrong dot com and the second from internationaloliv
    eoil dot org:
    The biggest health risk when frying with olive oil occurs when it is heated beyond its smoke point. The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil begins to give off smoke. That smoke contains compounds harmful to human health. Some of these compounds are harmful when breathed in along with the smoke. Others, free radicals, have been implicated in degenerative diseases like cancer.
    Varieties of Olive Oil
    Olive oil has a wide range of smoke points. Extra virgin olive oil smokes at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. A high-quality low-acidity extra virgin oil smokes at 405 degrees. Virgin olive oil smokes at 420 degrees and extra light olive oil smokes at 468 degrees. Foods are typically fried at 350 to 375 degrees. Practically, that means that some olive oils are fine for frying; others will smoke before getting hot enough to fry well. Choosing a low-acid, light oil will minimize the health hazards of frying in olive oil. livestrong dot com and internationaloliv
    eoil dot org says
    Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid. Its high smoking point (210ºC/aka 410 F) is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food (180ºC/aka c.350 F). Those fats with lower critical points, such as corn and butter, break down at this temperature and form toxic products. - 2/27/2014 9:55:56 AM
  • CRESENTROLL2
    thanks good to know. Mine is climbing on a statin drug as of yesterday doc said if I lose about 20lbs she will take me off of it.
    - 1/11/2014 7:01:14 PM
  • Had mine checked it was good. My potassium was high. Not very high but high. They say it comes from taking water pills. But the article is great. - 9/8/2013 6:18:04 PM
  • WEAVERKAT
    Thanks to Cherryblossom for the correct information on canola. - 8/29/2013 9:54:56 PM
  • Further to the comment below which has Canola being made from GMO corn it in fact comes from an entirely different plant related to the turnip. It is more commonly known as rapeseed (the Latin for turnip is rapum).
    Canola oil is low in saturated fat and contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 2:1. If consumed, it also reduces low-density lipoprotein and overall cholesterol levels, and as a significant source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid is associated with reduced all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. It is recognized by many health professional organizations including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Heart Association. Canola oil has been given a qualified health claim from the United States Food and Drug Administration due to its high levels of cholesterol-lower
    ing fats (from Wikipedia}.. - 6/28/2013 8:39:16 PM
  • I started on Niacin for cholestrol - 5/20/2013 6:43:45 PM
  • SCHAPKO
    So many opinions here on the subject; I am more confused than ever! I don't know who or what to believe now!!! - 4/5/2013 9:23:18 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by April 10! Get a FREE Personalized Plan