February is American Heart Month. You might already know that Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to CDC, every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. 1 out of every 4 deaths is due to Heart Disease. Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancers combined.
The good news is Heart Disease is preventable and controllable with proper nutrition and exercise. One of the best ways to prevent it is to control your overall cholesterol level.
There are 2 cholesterols in our blood (also on our lab reports) that we need to pay attention to: one is the good cholesterol called HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein), also known as the “Healthy” or “Happy” cholesterol; the other one is the bad one called LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein), also known as the “Lousy” cholesterol.
Beware that the good and bad cholesterol do NOT refer to the cholesterol we eat in food. They only exist in our blood. People usually pay attention to keeping our bad cholesterol (LDL) low to maintain heart health and to prevent heart disease. However, we also want to keep our good cholesterol (HDL) high because it helps to remove cholesterol from our cells and it keeps our blood flow in our blood vessels without blockage (reduce plaques accumulation in the wall of the blood vessels). We should aim at HDL above 60 mg/dl to receive the protective effect.
The following may help to increase our HDL:
- Be active – try to start with physical activities 30 minutes 5 days a week - Acquiring and maintaining a healthy weight - Quitting smoking - Replacing the Saturated fats (animal fats) with Monounsaturated fats (olive, canola, and safflower oil) - Replacing some animal proteins with soy proteins - Increasing omega-3 intake from wild-caught fish (2 times a week) and walnuts - Niacin supplementation – talk to your healthcare provider for prescription
We can also do quite a bit to help control our BAD cholesterol (LDL). Previous studies have shown that eating a mostly plant-based diet rich in several cholesterol-lowering foods, such as soy protein (tofu, soy milk, soy beans), almonds, plant sterol-enriched margarines, and soluble fiber (from items such as oats, dried beans and peas, barley, psyllium, some fruits and vegetables like okra and eggplant) for a year may lower cholesterol levels by 20% or more, nearly as effectively as taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
At my practice, many patients have successfully lower their LDL cholesterol when they start replacing some of the foods they regularly eat with cholesterol-lowering foods, and practicing the guidelines below.
Cholesterol lowering guidelines:
▪ Increase your Soluble Fiber intake (from the foods stated above) ▪ 5-10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables for soluble fiber ▪ Choose poultry, fish and leaner cuts of red meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal) ▪ Choose skim or 1% milk rather than 2% or whole milk ▪ Use a “light” tub margarine (trans-fat-free and those with Plant Stanol) rather than stick margarine or butter ▪ Bake, broil, grill or steam foods instead of frying ▪ Cook with a monounsaturated fat, such as olive or canola oil ▪ Try eating fish and seafood at least 2-3 times a week ▪ Limit fatty snacks, such as cakes, cookies, potato chips, ice-cream and candy bars ▪ Include soy protein in your diet such as Tofu, Soy milk, Soy meats, Soy beans (Edamame) ▪ Brisk walking 30 minutes a day
Interested in learning about weight goal and nutrition needs? Schedule a free body weight and fat% analysis with Hazel at 626-283-5128 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.