Main Types Of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol Low Density Lipids and High Density Lipids .
Since cholesterol doesnt dissolve in water, it needs molecules called lipoproteins to move around the body. Lipoproteins also carry fat and fat soluble vitamins around the body as well.
LDLs gets deposited in the walls of blood vessels. Excess of this type of cholesterol leads to clogged arteries, stroke and heart attack. LDLs can also be damaged by free radicals through a process called oxidation. Oxidized LDLs are more harmful to heart health.
HDLs help carry unused cholesterol away from vessel walls and back to the liver. This reverse transport process helps prevent clogged arteries, stroke and heart attack.
Important Numbers to Know
Knowing the following numbers are a good indicator of your personal risk for heart disease
- Total Cholesterol = the total cholesterol in your body, including LDL, HDL and Triglycerides
- Triglycerides = a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
According other CDC, these are what you should aim for when it comes to cholesterol numbers
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How To Start The Mediterranean Diet
As long as you get the green light from your personal health care provider, starting to follow the Mediterranean diet is simple to do with some small steps. And since small changes can lead to big results, it is best to choose a few principles at a time to adopt and then build on your new habits.
Some steps you can take to get started include:
- swap out your processed meat for lean or very lean cuts of beef like flank steak
- choose quinoa or farro instead of white rice or other refined grains
- cook with olive oil instead of refined oils or sources of saturated fats
- turn off the TV when you are eating a meal
- have fresh fruit for dessert instead of options that are made with added sugars
Adopting the Mediterranean diet may be the missing link you need to help keep your heart health in check. And since eating as-if you are vacationing off of the coast of the crystal-blue sea is no sacrifice, there is very little downside to eating this way in the long run too. Bon Appetit! For more ways to protect your heart and manage your cholesterol levels, be sure to read up on these Eating Habits to Avoid if You Don’t Want High Cholesterol, Say Dietitians.
For more healthy eating news, make sure to
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How Does The Mediterranean Diet Help Lower Cholesterol
The Mediterranean diet is a perfect choice if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol. Because it emphasizes plant-based proteinlike beans, nuts and lentils, whole grains, fish and fruits and vegetables, it’s naturally high in fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol levels. Plus, it keeps your digestive system moving and keeps you full so you’re less likely to feel hungry throughout the day. The diet is also low in saturated fat and refined grains and sugars, all of which can raise your cholesterol.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Heart Attack And Stroke
After menopause, women are just as much at risk for a heart attack or stroke as men.
When Im working with patients on ways to protect their heart, these are the things I recommend:
1. Know your numbers! If youre over the age of 40, have your cholesterol , blood pressure and glucose checked regularly. Knowing your numbers helps you to be more proactive if they start to go up.
- Cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dL with an LDL below 130 mg/dL an HDL above 40 mg/dL , and triglycerides below 150 mg/dL
- Blood pressure should be 120/80 mm/Hg
- Fasting glucose should be less than 100 mg/dL
2. Eat more cholesterol-lowering foods. My favorites include legumes, barley, oats, nuts, seeds, apples, pears, avocados, broccoli, and jicama. These happen to be especially good sources of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. But all fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have some amount of soluble fiber, so be sure to mix it up!
3. Be as physically active as you can. The recommendation for all adults is 150 minutes of cardio exercise plus 2-3 strength training sessions each week. Its great if you can do a little bit each day, but its more important to just be consistent about exercise. If longer workouts on the weekend and shorter sessions during the week works better for you do it! Regular exercise makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, it strengthens your entire cardiovascular system, and it often helps to improve cholesterol and blood pressure.
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Eat Well To Lower Your Cholesterol
Basing your diet on the foods people eat in the Mediterranean is a great way to look after your heart.
We have known for some time that people living in countries along the Mediterranean appear to have less heart disease than people living in the UK and northern Europe.
Health professionals now believe that this may be partly due to the foods that make up the traditional Mediterranean way of eating.
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods. This is now seen as a good way of eating both for a healthy heart and for general well-being.
The UKs own eat well guide is made up of similar foods and in similar amounts.
Take Your Diet To The Mediterranean
Fish instead of fried chicken. Brown rice instead of a white-flour roll. A handful of nuts instead of chips. Olive oil instead of butter. And plenty of vegetables and fruit. Easy food swaps like these put the heart-healthy, life-extending power of the Mediterranean diet on your platesimply and deliciously.
Just how much impact can diet have? A Mediterranean style of eating reduced heart disease risk by 28 to 30 percent in a large 2013 study from Spain. But you dont have to live near the Mediterranean to get the benefits. In a 2013 study that tracked a diverse group of 6,229 American women and men, ages 44 to 84, for eight years, Johns Hopkins researchers and others found that a Mediterranean-style diet combined with regular exercise, a healthy weight, and not smoking protected against early heart disease, slowed the build-up of plaque in artery walls, and reduced risk for an early death by 80 percent.
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What Is The Mediterranean Diet
The soul of Mediterranean food comes from countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa and Turkey.
Mediterranean-style meals have a heathy balance of protein and carbs, so plan on:
- Plants: Lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains
- Generous lashings of olive oil
- Seafood and shellfish of all kinds
- Cheese and dairy
- Meats and poultry i
- Wine: Yes, vino! In moderation, with meals
Mediterranean Meal Plan To Lower Cholesterol
Following the Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.
In this healthy Mediterranean meal plan to lower cholesterol, you’ll eat deliciously while lowering high cholesterol levels and boosting your heart health. In this healthy meal plan, we followed the principles of the Mediterranean diet to help you lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels while subsequently increasing your “good” HDL cholesterol levels by featuring plenty of fiber-rich produce, whole grains and plant-based proteins, healthy fats , while limiting added sugar and saturated fat. Another key factor in improving cholesterol levels? Exercise and weight loss. To promote a healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week, we set this plan at 1,200 calories a day and included modifications to bump up the calories to 1,500 or 2,000 calories a day, depending on your needs.
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Ways To Add Cholesterol Lowering Foods To Meals
- Add berries and walnuts to cereal
- Combine sautéed spinach, tomato and mushrooms with scrambled eggs
- Instead of a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread, use whole wheat bread with hummus, mashed avocado, broccoli sprouts, arugula, roasted chicken instead
- Rather than just having a bowl of salad greens, try jazzing up that lettuce with kidney beans or precooked lentils, sunflower seeds, chopped fruit/berries , olive oil based vinaigrette
Need A Recipe For Good Cholesterol Try A Mediterranean Diet Virgin Olive Oil
A Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may improve the function of good cholesterol in people at risk for heart disease, according to a new study.
A Mediterranean diet is based on the typical eating habits in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. It includes dairy products, fish and poultry more so than red meat. Fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds and olive oil also make up a Mediterranean diet, as does low to moderate amounts of wine.
HDL cholesterol the good cholesterol eliminates excess cholesterol from the bloodstream, whereas high levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of blood fat, increase the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases.
However, studies have shown that HDL doesnt work as well in people at high risk for heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, and that the functional ability of HDL matters as much as its quantity, said Montserrat Fitó, M.D., Ph.D., coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona and at the Ciber of Physipathology of Obesity and Nutrition.
At the same time, small-scale trials have shown that consuming antioxidant-rich foods like virgin olive oil, tomatoes and berries improved HDL function in humans, Fitó said.
The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
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Dietary Changes You Can Make For Better Heart Health
There are quite a few ways you can take the medical findings surrounding the Mediterranean diet and apply them to your own eating habits .
For example, make it a point to eat oily fish â like salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring, and mackerel â at least once a week, as this will increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake .
Make it a point to eat oily fish â like salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring, and mackerel â at least once a week, as this will increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Additionally, try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day. One good rule of thumb for this: choose colorful, vibrant foods to have on your plate with every meal . Fruits and vegetables are loaded with phytochemicals â compounds which can help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Choose colorful, vibrant foods to have on your plate with every meal .
Also, consider adding more whole grains, oats, and barley to your diet. These foods are high in fiber, and fiber is known to lower lipid levels. The American Heart Association recommends that you get your fiber from food sources instead of supplements, and the FDA suggests 25 grams of fiber per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Heart Healthy Mediterranean Vegetable Lentil Soup
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
To be proactive about your heart health, eat better, exercise regularly, and take the right supplements. Read on to learn more about which foods and supplements I recommend.
As a dietitian, Im a little bit obsessed with wellness and disease prevention especially when it comes to being proactive about heart health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. We often think of it as a mans disease, but did you know that a womans risk increases significantly after menopause? Once your estrogen levels decline, LDL, or bad cholesterol often goes up.
That increases your risk of heart disease. Combine it with other risk factors like being overweight, smoking, being too sedentary, and having diabetes, high blood pressure, or metabolic syndrome, and the risk goes up even more.
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Diet Changes To Focus On Adding
The diet changes below coincide with the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid but also can help improve cholesterol either by reducing LDLs or increasing HDLs.
Dont get overwhelmed and feel like you have to change everything at once. Change is hard. Small changes can yield big results but more importantly they can lead to healthy habits that youll keep forever.
Focus on increasing Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
The good news when focusing on lowering cholesterol is that the goal is not to eliminate all fat from your diet.
The Domestic Dietitian
Fat is needed for many functions in the body but also adds a ton of flavor to food. The goal is simply to reduce saturated fats and replace with mono/polyunsaturated fats instead.
Monounsaturated fats helps reduce LDL levels while increase HDL levels of cholesterol. They can also reduce the oxidation of cholesterol. Remember that oxidized LDL cholesterol is even more harmful to heart health.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is so underrated and most of us arent getting anywhere near our daily recommended amount. Check out this post for more detailed info on the power of fiber Dietary Fiber, The #1 Thing Missing from Your Diet
Best Sources of Dietary Fiber
In a nutshellPLANTS!
Olive Oil in place of other oils
Olive Oil in place of butter whenever possible
Milk in place of Non-dairy creamer
Hummus or Smashed Avocado in place of Mayo on Sandwiches
Olive oIl based dressings in place of creamy style dressings
Heart Healthy Cooking Tips
Stick to heart-healthy fats. Wherever possible, use olive oil instead of butter or margarine. Also, all nuts, , seeds, olives, and avocados are very rich in heart-healthy fats, so eat a few servings each day. Just remember all are high in calories, so mind those portion sizes!
Choose mostly lean proteins like fish, chicken, turkey, tofu, or eggs. And aim to eat at least two servings of fish each week. Theyre low in saturated fats, which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol. Theyre also a good source of omega-3 fats which are great for your blood pressure.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. At least 5-7 servings each day. Theyre high in soluble fiber and can lower your cholesterol. And purple fruits and vegetables, like berries or purple sweet potatoes, contain polyphenol antioxidants that protect your blood vessels.
Incorporate a few meatless meals each week that feature legumes and whole grains with vegetables. Theyll help bump up your cholesterol-lowering fiber even more.
Limit sodium by cooking from scratch rather than using packaged foods and go easy on the saltshaker. Cooking from scratch is probably the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and so many other chronic lifestyle diseases. Processed, packaged, and fast foods are all full of salt, sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemicals that promote inflammation in your blood vessels and throughout your body.
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The Mediterranean Diet Can Help Lower Cholesterol
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil all of which can help reduce cholesterol levels.
In fact, a 2020 study published in BMJ found that following the Mediterranean diet for eight weeks lowered LDL cholesterol levels in obese patients.
But it’s not just about lowering LDL it’s also about increasing HDL levels. A 2017 study published in the journal Acta Diabetologica found that when people lost weight following a Mediterranean diet, they also experienced increases in the level of good cholesterol, which lowers the bad cholesterol in your blood.
“A traditional Mediterranean Diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and olive oil is a great one to follow if you are trying to lower cholesterol,” Ungerleider says.
Some Foods To Focus On When Trying To Reduce Cholesterol
Holistically speaking, the Mediterranean diet appears to help keep cholesterol levels healthy however, there are some specific foods that are standouts when it comes to protecting your heart health and following this dietary pattern.
One of those foods is extra virgin olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is rich in “healthy” fats that come predominantly from olive oil and is extremely low in saturated and trans-fats. Olive oil is the main fat source consumed on this diet. And along with the healthy fats that it provides, it is also rich in antioxidants and is salt-free. The combination of these unique facts can play a big role in the heart-health benefit that it offers.
Another Mediterranean diet food group that has been linked to lower cholesterol levels is whole grains. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating whole grains lowered LDL cholesterol more than eating refined grainswith the greatest benefit seen when people ate whole grain oats.
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