High blood cholesterol can affect anyone. It's a serious condition that increases your risk for heart disease, and the higher your cholesterol level, the greater your risk.
If you've just been diagnosed with high cholesterol it can be a daunting experience, but thankfully there are steps you can take to help protect your health.
The National Cholesterol Education Program set out guidelines to help you lower your cholesterol levels and achieve a heart healthy lifestyle.
Let's take a closer look at the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet:
You should limit your total fat intake to 25 - 35 percent of your total calories each day.
#1 Unsaturated fats are the ‘good' fats and can be divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats are known to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Good sources include fish products, nuts, olive, peanut, and canola oils.
- Your polyunsaturated fat intake should consist of up to 20 percent of your total calorie intake.
- Your monounsaturated fat intake should consist of up to 10 percent of your total calorie intake.
#2 Saturated fats are the ‘bad' fats, known to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Foods high in saturated fats include fatty animal meats, whole milk dairy products, and fried foods.
- Less than 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.
#3 Omega-3 fatty acids can help to lower your LDL cholesterol levels.
Try to get one to two portions of fish each week, one of which should be oily fish. Oily fish include:
- Other sources include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds
#4 Cholesterol can be found in some of the foods we eat, but our liver produces the majority of the cholesterol needed by the body. High cholesterol foods include, organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products.
- Your cholesterol intake should be less than 200 milligrams per day.
#5 Trans fats can also lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol levels. They are found in fried foods, and many commercially baked products, such as cookies, crackers and cakes.
In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it can be labelled ‘trans fat-free.' But, if you are eating lots of foods containing small amounts of these fats, it can quickly add up.
Make sure you aren't eating too much by checking the ingredients list for ‘partially hydrogenated oil,' and avoid wherever possible.
To further lower your bad cholesterol levels you should also include soluble fiber and phytosterol regularly in your diet.
#6 Soluble fiber includes:
The current recommendation for soluble fiber consumption is 10 - 25 grams each day.
#7 Sterols and stanols are also very beneficial. Some of the commercial brands available include: