What NOT to do
Even though Americans’ waistlines have continued their expansion, leading to an increase in obesity-related diseases, cholesterol levels among US adults have been falling. Only 13.4% of U.S. adults have high cholesterol, according to the CDC report, possibly reflecting better diet, more exercise and the increased use of prescription drugs and herbal supplements to lower the risk of heart attacks. A similar survey conducted in 1999 and 2000 showed that 18.3% of adults had high total cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a fatty chemical compound, known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. It is mainly made by the liver but can also be found in some foods we eat. Your body needs cholesterol to provide the body's cells with the needed fluidity and flexibility for proper function.
Having an LDL measurement under 100 mg/dL is considered optimal. Current recommendations advise taking statins or other drugs when LDL levels reach at least 130 mg/dL, to lower the likelihood of heart disease in those at increased risk because of factors such as a family history or high blood pressure. Patients without risk factors are advised to start taking statins when their LDL reaches 160 mg/dL.
Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and controlling cholesterol can all help protect heart health. Why do so many find lowering cholesterol such a challenge?
It may be because people make a number of mistakes in their efforts to reduce high cholesterol. There are some obstacles that could be standing between you and a successful cholesterol lowering plan.
Here are some don’ts in your efforts to reduce cholesterol:
- Don’t ignore sugar in your foods – When some find out that they have high-cholesterol, they may focus only on limiting cholesterol and fat in their diet. They may be overlooking sugars, which also contribute to higher cholesterol. Excess calories, which can come from sugar as well as fat, are turned into fats and triglycerides and can then contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
- Don’t worry about only LDL – Because of mainstream cholesterol education and even information from your doctor, you can be too worried about your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" kind. You actually need to know and understand to your whole lipid profile, which includes total cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Don’t cut out all dietary fat – Another frequent mistake is thinking that all fats should be avoided. Indeed, you should cut out trans and saturated fats, from sources like baked goods, such as crackers, and cookies. Don’t forget that you do need — in moderation — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, olives, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish.
- Don’t ignore your cholesterol numbers – High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don't know they have it. National guidelines recommend cholesterol checks every five years after age 20.
- Don’t ban the wrong foods –If you have high cholesterol, you should monitor the amount of cholesterol you take in from food, keeping your daily total to less than 300 milligrams. This means you need to make thoughtful choices about what you eat. For example, eggs, which for years got a bad reputation as a high-cholesterol food. Eggs are full of protein and nutrients. You can have one egg, if you don’t make up for it in cheese, ham, or other fatty things. A healthy substitute, like low-fat instead of full-fat cheese, can allow you to keep eating a favorite food while still aiming to reduce cholesterol intake.
- Don’t skip exercising – Increasing physical activity together with eating more healthfully helps to improve your overall lipid profile.
- Don’t get locked into a fad diet –Diets that seem to work best for improving heart health and reducing cholesterol are among the oldest. Doctors often recommend a Mediterranean style diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and fish. Work with this diet, watch your meal portions and count calories, and you can achieve weight loss, and counter high cholesterol.
To avoid trans fats, look at the %DV (Daily Value) beside saturated fat on the Nutrition Facts table. Choose products with 10% DV or lower for saturated fat The lower the number the better. Foods with a 5% DV or lower are considered low in fat. Check the ingredient list: avoid eating foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil and shortening. Look for words such as "free of trans fatty acids”, "reduced in trans fatty acids” and "lower in trans fatty acids”.
Changing from an unhealthy diet to a healthy diet can reduce a cholesterol level. However, dietary changes alone rarely lower a cholesterol level enough to change a person's risk of cardiovascular disease from a high-risk category to a lower-risk category. However, any extra reduction in cholesterol due to diet will help.
An excellent cholesterol supplement that include many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the “bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!