Beat bad cholesterol

What's all the fuss about cholesterol? One of the greatest fears of anyone on a wellness plan is the avoidance of cholesterol.

Good cholesterol

HDL or high-density lipoprotein lessens your risk of heart disease. Cholesterol is the building block for tissues in the body and is a conduit for hormones which keep you young.

However, excessive amounts can be risky for anybody, especially a patient with other risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and smoking.

What's good for you:

  • Olive oil and olive products
  • Monounsaturated fats - olive, peanuts, and canola oil
  • Polyunsaturated fats - nuts, seeds, fish, algae, leafy greens
  • Legumes - beans, lentils, peas and all soya products
  • Fat-free yoghurt and other low-fat dairy products
  • Rainbow-coloured fruits and vegetables
  • Garlic and onions - contain high antioxidant properties
  • Fish - rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Ostrich - the best substitute for red meat; low in total saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Omega 3-enriched food - eggs, milk and bread

What to do

If your cholesterol is high, which can be determined through a simple blood test, here's your must-do list:

Lose weight. Carrying extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Losing as little as 5-10 lbs. is beneficial.

Be well-informed. Read up on food rich in bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein.

Know the foods that can be your health savers.

Avoid French fries, fatty burgers (unless lean meat is used), junk food, processed food.

Read food labels well-front and back. Under ingredients, you will see items to stay away from, like hydrogenated fats.

Stock up on fruits and leafy greens.

Exercise. Thirty minutes of walking, dancing, running help.

Reduce your abdominal circumference to less than 34 inches for men and 32 inches for women.

Avoid red meat and foods with saturated fats.

As a rule, you should get no more than 10 per cent of your daily calories from saturated fats.

If you're going to eat red meat, keep the portions small. And don't eat it daily. Alternate with chicken and fish.

Eliminate transfats - most fried foods and commercial baked products (cookies, snacks, etc.) contains this.

In the US, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of transfat, it can be labelled as fat-free. But even a small amount can add to your cholesterol problem.

Avoid or limit dried fruits because they contain more calories than fresh fruit.

Limit the cholesterol in your food. Aim for no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day, less than 200 mg if you have heart disease.

If you want to avoid cholesterol from the food you eat, go vegetarian.

Go lean - lean meat, skim milk and egg substitute.

Select whole grains like wheat pasta, brown rice, multi-grain breads.

Go fishy with salmon, sardines, mackerel.

Stay motivated

Never be discouraged-no matter what anyone tells you - not even your doctor, who may or may not give you a tragic prognosis. There is always hope if you embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Never too late

Who says it's too late to get healthy? It never really is. While still breathing and on your feet, you can begin a whole new life.

Start by taking charge of your lifestyle. Fill yourself with supportive and health-conscious friends. Avoid the ones who live by the philosophy "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

Instead, affirm to yourself, "I live, I love and I am well."

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