In our constant struggle to control our cholesterol, what we eat is vital. Unlike other conditions, symptoms of high cholesterol do not show on the surface, it is something that builds up gradually over time and will lead to heart disease and stroke. Most of you may not be aware of where your cholesterol levels are and based on this you may not know you are in danger.
It starts with your diet; consuming foods which are high in saturated fats need to be avoided. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol. Saturated fat is found mostly in foods from animals and some plants. Foods from animals include beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole and 2 percent milk. All of these foods also contain dietary cholesterol. Foods from plants that contain saturated fat include coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil (often called tropical oils), and cocoa butter. The AHA has laid out the following guidelines relative to your intake of fat in your diet; this includes healthy Americans over the age of 2:
- Limit total fat intake to less than 25-35 percent of your total calories each day;
- Limit saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories;
- Limit trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories;
- The remaining fat should come from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils; and
- Limit cholesterol take to less than 300 mg per day, for most people. If you have coronary heart disease or your LDL cholesterol level is 100 mg / dL or greater, limit your cholesterol take to less than 200 milligrams a day.
There are many who believe having high cholesterol is genetic, but this is keeping a diet to control your cholesterol becomes especially critical. People with type 2 diabetes know this all too well and you should learn from their example. Developing a dietary plan should begin as soon as possible. You first need to know where your levels are; if this has not been done you should do this immediately. You should know your risk levels for example if your total cholesterol is 200 mg / dL or more, or your HDL cholesterol is less than 40 mg / dL (for men) and less than 50 mg / dL (for women), then you are in a dangerous place to where you are at risk developing a heart condition. Once you know where your cholesterol levels are put a plan in place to lower or maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Your diet should consist of foods which are high in fiber, fish, olive oils, fruits and vegetables.
To reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, work with your healthcare professionals to monitor and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Implement an exercise program as well, because your weight also factors into maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. If a prescription medication is recommended, ask about natural alternatives because living with the side effects of prescription medications can have adverse effects on your health in the long term. Even if your cholesterol levels are good now, its not too early to develop healthy eating habits that can help keep your numbers in check and live a long and healthy life.