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Dietary Dos and Don’ts for Managing Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol puts you at risk for long-term health complications, including heart disease and a heart attack. While some people require medications to control cholesterol levels in their blood, it’s also possible to reduce your risk factors for chronic health issues through your diet.

At More MD, John Moran, MD, offers comprehensive care for managing blood cholesterol. Dr. Moran works closely with you to improve your health through a customized treatment plan. In addition to any medications you may need, he also evaluates your diet and can recommend necessary changes to enhance your heart health.

Understanding high blood cholesterol

Your body makes cholesterol to create hormones, support circulatory health, and trigger other essential functions. You also get cholesterol from your diet.

To understand high cholesterol, you need to understand the two types of cholesterol your body has:

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol. This substance circulates through your bloodstream and collects excess cholesterol, so your body can eliminate it as waste.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol that can build up in your arteries. Over time, it causes the vessels to narrow and become hard, which disrupts your normal blood flow.

There are several factors that contribute to high levels of LDL cholesterol, including:

You may also be at increased risk for high cholesterol if you’re overweight or obese.

The importance of routine blood cholesterol testing

Because high cholesterol doesn’t cause any symptoms until more serious health issues develop, routine monitoring of your cholesterol levels through blood work is important.

Dr. Moran offers on-site blood testing for high cholesterol during annual checkups. He may recommend them if you have a family history or other contributing factors for high cholesterol.

To keep your cholesterol levels well-controlled, Dr. Moran offers dietary and lifestyle improvement tips, as well as a customized treatment plan to manage your condition.

Start with dietary changes to beat high cholesterol

When you eat foods that are filled with saturated fat, trans fats, and salt, you’re at increased risk for raising your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Many of these fat-filled foods including meats, baked goods, and dairy products.

Here are a few dos and don’ts to consider when planning your meals and snacks to naturally control your cholesterol levels:

DON’T: Ignore food labels.

DO: Food labels display the amounts of unhealthy additives and fats in the products you eat. By becoming more aware of exactly what’s in packaged foods you eat, you can stay in better control of your cholesterol intake and overall nutritional health.

DON’T: Live on fast food.

DO: While an occasional cheeseburger isn’t going to overwhelm your cholesterol levels, you should focus on planning and eating more healthy meals at home. Many popular fast food options contain high levels of saturated and trans fats. By making meals at home, you can reduce your fat and salt intake and improve your heart health.

DON’T: Overdose on dairy.

DO: While you may love cheese and other dairy products, too much dairy can increase your bad cholesterol levels. Consider substituting your favorite cheeses and milk for a low or no-fat option. Substituting for healthier options not only decreases your risk for raising your cholesterol, but you can also cut unnecessary calories to help you maintain a healthy weight.

DON’T: Binge on processed sweets.

DO: Substitute sweetened baked goods and fatty ice cream with naturally sweet fresh fruits. Fruits contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to function without the unhealthy fats. They are also low in calories to keep your weight under control.

DON’T: Eat meat every day.

DO: While a good steak is hard to beat, you should be limiting how much red meat you’re eating each week. Opt for leaner cuts of beef or your favorite meats and limit your intake to a few days a week. You can fill in the rest of the week with skinless chicken and fish and meatless dishes, like salads and vegetable dishes.

DON’T: Grab the chips.

DO: If you enjoy a crunchy snack, switch out the high-fat potato chips with fresh vegetable slices. You’ll still get the crunch without exposing yourself to unhealthy saturated and trans fats.

For more dietary tips to lower your cholesterol levels, schedule a consultation with Dr. Moran online or by calling the More MD office nearest you today.

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