Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body needs to function normally. Your body uses cholesterol to produce certain hormones and make vitamin D. It also produces bile acids that digest fat. But your body only needs a small amount of cholesterol to perform these functions. Too much cholesterol in your bloodstream will start to adhere to the artery walls and form blockages. These blockages are the cause of heart attacks and strokes.
It is important that you keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. While high cholesterol can be hereditary, a lot of our cholesterol problems come from the food we eat and lack of exercise.
The best way to lower your cholesterol is to lose weight. Being overweight interrupts the bodys metabolism causing the body to hang onto too much fat. Following a low fat, low cholesterol diet and getting more exercise will help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol.
Here is a guide on what foods to eat and what foods to limit:
Food you should eat:-
* 5 servings per day of a variety of fruits and vegetables.
* 6 servings per day of whole grain breads, rice and pasta. Oatmeal is especially beneficial.
* 2 to 4 servings of fat free or low fat milk products.
* 6 ounces of lean meats or skinless poultry per day.
* Beans and peas.
* Nuts and seeds in limited amounts.
* Unsaturated vegetable oils. But limit the amount of margarine and spreads made from them.
Foods to Limit:-
* Whole milk, creams and ice cream.
* Butter, egg yolks and cheese.
* Untrimmed fatty meats and organ meats.
* Processed meats such as Bologna, hot dogs, salami and sausage.
* Bakery goods made with saturated fats and egg yolks.
* Coconut oils, palm oils and palm kernal oil which are saturated fats.
* Solid fats such as shortening, partially hydrogenated margarine and lard.
* Fried foods.
Lowering cholesterol does not mean that you cut out all the fats. You just exchange them. The above guidelines should help you determine how to do this.
There is a lot of focus on cutting back on the fats in the food we eat but did you know that there are beverages that can help lower cholesterol? Studies have shown that green tea has a lot of powerful antioxidants that help lower cholesterol and can even lower blood pressure.
Orange juice contains folic acids that help lower homocysteine levels in the body. High homocysteine levels can cause cholesterol to change into oxidized low density lipoprotein which can damage the arteries. It can also make blood clot easier and increase the risk of blockages.
Grape juice is loaded with certain antioxidants that help prevent red blood cells from clumping together to form clots.
Research has proven that having 1 to 3 ounces of wine a day can lower your risk of heart attack. But do not drink it if you have an alcohol dependency problem or high blood pressure.
Keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level takes some effort on your part. Lose weight, exercise, quit smoking and eat healthily. This may seem like a lot to some but you only have one heart. It is your responsibility to take good care of it.
Dawn Robertshaw has written numerous articles and ebooks on coping with life in the 21st century. For more free articles, tips, advice and a range of health and relationship targeted information products in written and audio form for immediate download visit us at www.InThe21stCentury.com