The Baby Boomer Heart: Cholesterol Rising
People between ages 45-60 years are at risk for high cholesterol. High cholesterol can build up even in trim, active people.
Controlling Cholesterol: What to Do
If your HDL is low and your LDL is high, your first line of defense is to change your diet -- a strategy that can bring results in as little as eight to 12 weeks.
According to registered dietician Samantha Heller, MS, RD, the first foods to cut are the ones high in saturated fat.
"These are fats that come from animal products, like beef, lamb, and pork, as well as high-fat dairy products such as butter, ice cream, high-fat yogurt or whole milk," says Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist with the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Center at New York University's Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine.
Equally important, replace tropical oils in your diet such as palm, corn, and coconut oils with heart-healthy oils such as olive, canola, or grape seed oil.
"This allows you to shift the fat content, which lowers LDL and raises HDL," says Underberg. He also suggests increasing soluble fiber, up to 25 grams a day, and adding soy-rich foods such as tofu and soy milk to lower LDL.
To increase HDL he recommends omega-3 fatty acids -- the good fats found in flax seed oil, walnuts, almonds, and fish such as salmon.
Heller suggests avoiding foods that raise triglycerides, such as simple carbohydrates like white bread, cakes, cookies, and pies, as well as french fries and donuts.
Most people make cholesterol out of animal fat, not from cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs or shrimp. But some people are more genetically programmed to make bad LDL cholesterol out of those cholesterol-rich foods. So Heller says it's wise for everyone with high cholesterol to keep these foods to a minimum.
In addition, the American Heart Association says adding the following foods to your diet can also help lower your cholesterol:
- 5 servings or more of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
- 6 or more servings per day of whole-grain, high-fiber products, including whole-wheat breads and cereals, oatmeal, and brown rice.
- Protein consisting of skinless poultry, very lean meats, fish and legumes (beans).
- Fat-free and low-fat dairy products.