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Nutrition Articles  ›  Special Concerns

The Keys to Conquering Cholesterol

Do's and Don'ts for a Healthy Heart

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
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DO cut back on trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are formed during the process of hydrogenation, which makes a fat more saturated and extends its shelf life. Avoid the term "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" on the ingredient list of margarines, as well as packaged foods, cookies and crackers.

DON’T forget to go fishing. Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, is good for cholesterol. It is recommended to eat at least 6-8 ounces of baked or broiled fish each week. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and halibut are excellent sources.


DON’T smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. It decreases your HDL (high density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol) levels.

DO get moving. Physical activity is an important part of a heart-healthy routine. It can also help you control your weight and lower your blood pressure. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of activity every day.

DO lose weight, if you are overweight. People who maintain a healthful weight (a BMI of 18-24) are not only less likely to develop heart disease, but also high blood pressure and diabetes. Lose unwanted pounds by eating fewer calories and increasing your physical activity on a regular basis.

DON’T forget to know your numbers. Get your blood cholesterol levels checked yearly.

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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

  • 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
    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
    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
    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
  • Reminds me to have mine checked, thanks. :) - 2/28/2013 11:07:44 PM
  • I have had very high cholesterol: for the last 28 years- first time tested for it - was told I would be dead in 5 years - 78 and still going strong, told by a doctor once, that some people have a naturally high cholesterol level, and live with it.
    Exercise daily and kayak 3-4 times per week, and watch I do not eat too much, but on the whole eat what I want. Horses for courses perhaps. - 2/28/2013 8:33:25 PM
    This information is not right. You need fat for your brain. I have started adding fat into my diet. I listen to Dr Davis who wrote "Wheat Belly" he is also a heart Dr.
    Canola oil? Made from GMO corn I am not willing to take the risk of putting GMO's in my body.
    This cholesterol watch was added to my account automatically when I joined but I don't feel its watching out for my best interests. I am not sure how to turn it off. - 2/28/2013 4:04:03 PM
    I watched the documentary FatHead. Very informative. - 9/11/2012 3:30:13 PM
  • This is an excellent article to magnet to the fridge.
    A few more tips: Melons like cantaloupe and spring melons are high in fiber. Potatos, yams, spaghetti and butternut squash, Not white rice which is mostly carbohydrate but brown rice or wild rice, high in fiber.
    Extra light olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil are mostly monounsaturates. I find the olive oil adds the better flavor to foods, followed by sesame oil.
    Carbohydrates do increase cholesterol when stored as fat first. Try low carbohydrate foods with flavors, desserts i.e mostly made low sugar but with fruit for flavoring. I make muffins and omit the milk, eggs substituting with apple sauce or one of the healthy harvest brands of sauce like peach or mango medley. Instead of vanilla which is an alcohol, I keep
    lemon, orange, apricot flavors on my pantry shelves for baking, this really perks up a dessert.
    Enjoy the food! - 8/30/2012 1:53:56 PM
  • I am sorry to say Becky Hand is way behind the times, both in how to lower cholesterol, and if in fact high cholesterol is as dangerous as Big Pharma would like us to believe. Becky needs to read Dr. Uffe Ravnskov's books along with Dr. William Davis' and Gary Taubes' works. Get with the times! - 8/30/2012 10:52:04 AM