High Cholesterol Treatment -- What Works?
Safe, effective treatment for high cholesterol isn't hard -- but it can be confusing. Get the facts.
Eating Right as a High Cholesterol Treatment
We've all heard that diet has an effect on cholesterol, but there's much confusion about what you should or shouldn't eat. Here's a rundown of the current evidence.
Fat. If you have high cholesterol, you should cut down on saturated fat -- found in fatty meats and whole milk dairy products like cheese, ice cream, and butter. You also need to reduce your intake of trans fats, a man-made fat found in many processed foods, like stick margarine.
But the message isn't as simple as "fat is bad." There are a number of foods with healthy unsaturated fats that will actually improve your cholesterol. They include fatty fish like tuna and salmon, walnuts, and almonds. Since even good fats are high in calories, you should still eat them in moderation.
Calories. According to Wong, the importance of counting your calories is often overlooked by people with high cholesterol. No matter how much or how little fat or cholesterol is in a food, its calories still add up. Eating too much of it can lead to weight gain, and that increases your risk of high cholesterol.
High cholesterol foods. Experts have long urged people with high cholesterol to shun foods loaded with cholesterol, like egg yolks, shrimp, and organ meats. While some recent evidence suggests eggs may not be quite as harmful as once thought, experts still generally recommend you limit all high cholesterol foods. Also, don't assume that a food labeled "cholesterol-free" is necessarily good for you.
So what sort of diet works as a high cholesterol treatment? Ask your doctor for specific recommendations. Some experts recommend a Mediterranean-style diet, which cuts down on saturated and trans fats, while boosting intake of healthy unsaturated fats from fish and nuts.
If an improved diet doesn't help your cholesterol, don't feel like a failure. Because of their genes, some people just don't respond as well to this approach.
Weight Loss & Exercise as a High Cholesterol Treatment
Being overweight or obese ups your odds of having high LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and low HDL (good cholesterol) levels. It can also lead to other serious risks like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. So it's crucial to keep a healthy weight.