What to eat to lower your cholesterol and fat levels


A plant-based diet will certainly help to lower your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. — TNS

With those New Year’s resolutions behind us, some people may have reverted to less healthy ways of eating.

So, this might be a good time to remind yourself of why a healthy diet is important for more than just your waistline.

“What you eat and drink affects your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and if you have high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, your healthcare team may recommend following a cholesterol-lowering diet,” says Mayo Clinic Health System cardiologist Dr Ripu Singh.

High cholesterol could cause your heart arteries to harden – a condition called atherosclerosis – which could lead to coronary artery disease.

In addition, hardened arteries may allow a coating called plaque to build up and partially block your arteries.

Blocked arteries can lead to low blood flow in the heart and chest pain.

Triglycerides and cholesterol are types of lipids, or fats, which circulate in your blood.

Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy.

Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.

Cholesterol is made mainly by the liver, but can also enter your body in the foods you eat that contain animal fat.

Foods that come from animals or contain animal fat include meat, egg yolks, lard and dairy products.

The type and amount of fat you eat can influence how much cholesterol your body makes.

Your body makes triglycerides from excess calories, regardless of the calorie source, such as fat, protein or carbohydrates.

Triglycerides are also made from excess sugar and alcohol.

High triglyceride levels are a risk factor for heart disease.

Your healthcare team may recommend some of these lifestyle changes to improve your blood cholesterol levels and lower your triglyceride level:

  • Eat a plant-based diet that includes 100% whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, as well as high-fibre foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get to and stay at a healthy body weight.
  • Limit or avoid trans fats as they can raise blood cholesterol.
  • Limit your intake of high-cholesterol foods, including foods like egg yolks, organ meats, animal fat and high-fat dairy.
  • Lower your total fat intake as all oils and fats are high in calories.
  • Lower your saturated fat intake as it can raise blood cholesterol.
  • Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fats (polyunsaturated fats are OK too), as they can lower your blood cholesterol levels.

“You can still enjoy foods you love, but you should prioritise a heart-healthy diet and eat less-healthy foods in moderation.

“Small changes can make a big impact in reducing your risk of heart disease,” says Dr Ripu. – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service

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