Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. It is also found in foods from animal sources, like beef, poultry and full-fat dairy products. While your body needs some cholesterol to function properly, produce hormones, vitamin D and the bile acids that help digest fat, too much cholesterol can lead to the development of health problems, such as heart disease.1
It's also important to remember that there are 2 types of cholesterol — the "bad" kind (LDL) and the "good" kind (HDL). LDL cholesterol contributes to thick plaque that can build up in the arteries making them narrow or clog resulting in heart attack or stroke. HDL is considered the good cholesterol because it helps to remove LDL from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol or not enough HDL (good) cholesterol can put you at risk for heart attack, stroke or heart disease, which remains the number one cause of death in the United States.1
Your body, specifically the liver, produces all of the necessary cholesterol and then circulates it through the bloodstream. It's important to avoid a diet high in saturated and trans fats, as this can trigger your liver to produce more cholesterol and increase health risks.
Concerned about reducing your cholesterol levels? Continue reading below for ten ways to improve your heart health.
ADD COLORFUL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES TO EACH MEAL
Fruits and vegetables are a prime source of nutrients beneficial to the whole body and key for heart health, and the vibrant colors make the plate look more appetizing.
DOWNSIZE YOUR PLATE
Curb unhealthy eating habits, which can impact heart health, by downsizing your plate. Using a smaller plate will help you with portion control and help you avoid overeating caused by feeling the need to clean your plate.
ASSIGN ONE DAY TO MENU PLAN
Take control of your meals and health by cooking at home and incorporating more heart-healthy recipes that are low in fat and contain beneficial veggies, fruits, and proteins. This not only empowers you to know all of the ingredients going into your meals, but will limit the number of nights you eat out, and save time and money too!
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days per week to reduce "bad" cholesterol and raise "good" cholesterol by lowering or maintaining a healthy weight. Physical activity is key in preventing heart disease and improving overall cardiovascular health.2
SWAP YOUR COOKING OIL
Corn oil is not only more effective in helping to lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil3, but it is also among the most versatile oils in the kitchen. Its neutral taste complements the flavors of foods, making it ideal for baking, grilling and sautéing - a cooking must-have for any dish.
UP YOUR FIBER INTAKE
Increasing soluble fiber intake by 5-10 grams each day by eating foods like dried beans, oats and barley may help reduce "bad" cholesterol.4
LIMIT FOODS HIGH IN SATURATED FATS TO HELP REDUCE CHOLESTEROL5
When preparing food for you and your family, corn oil is a heart healthy option that supports a diet low in saturated fat.
SWAP OUT BEEF FOR FATTY FISH AT LEAST 2X/WK
Consuming fish rich in omega-3s may help lower your blood cholesterol level resulting in a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.6
GET AT LEAST 6-8 HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT
Those who are sleep deprived have slower metabolism and more difficulty losing weight. Individuals with higher body weights may have higher cholesterol resulting in being more at-risk for heart disease.6
Nuts are a great source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats when eaten in moderation. Those who eat nuts four times per week may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.7
Craving Italian? Swap traditional pasta for a plate of Spaghetti Squash noodles for an instant heart healthy upgrade.
See Full Recipe Here
3. Maki KC, Lawless AI, Kelley KM, Kaden VN, Dicklin MR. Benefits of corn oil compared to extra virgin olive oil consumption on the plasma lipid profile in men and women with elevated cholesterol: results from a controlled feeding trial. J. Clin. Lipidol. January/February 2015 issue. Study sponsored in part by ACH Food Companies, Inc.
4. Eating Well
6. American Heart Association
© ACH Food Companies, Inc.
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