High cholesterol is a big-time risk factor for heart disease. When cholesterol accumulates inside your veins and arteries (called atherosclerosis), it raises blood pressure and puts increased pressure on the heart to pump blood.
When your heart has a hard time pumping blood, it can lead to a bunch of problems. Not only does it have to work harder, which increases the risk of heart attack, it also makes it tough for oxygen-rich blood to get everywhere it needs to.
If your brain, organs, and tissue aren’t getting a regular adequate supply of blood filled with oxygen and nutrients, they are unable to function at full capacity. Cell death can occur and you can run into a number of problems including cognitive decline, respiratory issues, and more.
Managing cholesterol levels can have major impacts on your health. But how can you do it?
One of the keys to managing cholesterol levels is paying attention to what you eat. You’re going to want to focus on foods that limit the amount of “bad” LDL cholesterol (the type that accumulates on arterial walls), but boost “good” HDL cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol promotes heart health by helping clear LDL deposits off arterial walls.
Foods that lead to LDL production and accumulation in the body are generally high-sugar processed foods. Highly processed meats are also major contributors, as are hydrogenated (or trans) fats. People with high cholesterol are also advised to eat foods low in saturated fat, whether those fats are naturally occurring or not.
On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that naturally-occurring saturated fats have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels.
Aside from limiting the intake of processed foods and high-sugar items, eating more fiber is a great way to improve your cholesterol profile. Other cholesterol-friendly foods include fatty fish like salmon, trout, and albacore tuna. Vegetable oils like olive oil, avocado, and canola oil are also great alternatives to butter, lard, and coconut oil.
But aside from the food and oil you select, there are other ways to reduce the saturated fat content of a meal to potentially contribute to lower cholesterol.
- Use a rack so fat drains off when boiling, roasting, or baking meats and poultry.
- Use wine instead of fat drippings to baste meat.
- Broil, bake or grill meats instead of pan-frying.
- Cut off outer fat layers before cooking.
- Remove skin layer from poultry.
- Skim top player of congealed fat after soup/stew has been refrigerated.