Cholesterol plays an important role as your body builds new cells. However, as with many things in life, it’s more complicated than that.
“In simple terms, cholesterol comes in two forms,” says McLeod Cardiologist Vaishali Swami, MD.
“We have HDL, which is the so-called good cholesterol, and LDL, which is the bad cholesterol. Cholesterol derives from two sources. First, our livers produce all the cholesterol we need. HDL picks up cholesterol in the blood and returns it to the liver, where it breaks down and passes out of the body. LDL transports cholesterol to where the body needs it. When there’s too much – such as when we eat fatty foods — waxy buildups form, clogging the arteries. A healthy diet is a major step in preventing or controlling high cholesterol.”
PICKING THE RIGHT FOODS
Sauté fresh vegetables with a small bit of vegetable oil and water. Avoid using butter.
When selecting meat, choose the leaner chicken or turkey. Select cuts of beef with as little visible fat as possible. If you buy ground beef, look for the package that is at least 93% lean.
Low-fat and fat-free foods, such as milk and cheese, typify good choices.
Don’t buy flavored yogurt; use plain yogurt enhanced by the fresh fruit you add.
Reduce your consumption of processed meats, such as hot dogs, bologna and sausage.
COOKING TIPS TO CONTROL YOUR CHOLESTEROL
With chicken or turkey, remove the skin before cooking. To keep it moist, baste the meat with wine or olive oil.
Rather than deep-frying or pan-frying, broil your meat and fish.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Ask your physician or cardiologist to check your cholesterol level. In addition to suggesting that you exercise more, stop smoking and eat healthy, the cardiologist may also recommend one of a series of medications that can reduce or control the “bad” cholesterol.
Statins, one class of cholesterol controlling drugs, help prevent cholesterol production in the liver. Other medications can work to inactivate a protein in the liver to lower bad cholesterol (PCSK9), prevent cholesterol being absorbed in the intestine (selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors) or assist the intestines to boost the body’s disposal of cholesterol (resins).
To find heart healthy recipes, check this website.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Heart Association, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, U.S. Department of Agriculture