Every drop of your blood contains cholesterol, commonly referred to as fat, an essential component that your body needs in order to build healthy cells.
However, when too much cholesterol accumulates in your bloodstream, it can build up in your coronary arteries and obstruct blood flow to the heart – leading to a plethora of cardiac diseases such as stroke, and heart attack.
High cholesterol has no symptoms, so doing a blood test with your doctor is the only way to check if your cholesterol levels still fall within the normal range.
There are two different types of cholesterol – your LDLs or “bad” cholesterol, and your HDLs or your “good” cholesterol. LDLs tend to accumulate in your arteries, causing them to harden and grow narrow, while HDLs pick up excess cholesterol and take it back to your liver. Higher LDL levels will put you more at risk for developing cardiac diseases, thus the importance of watching your cholesterol levels regularly.
High cholesterol is commonly associated with external factors such as lack of exercise, excess weight, a high-fat diet, and too much alcohol. These unhealthy habits can disrupt your body’s cholesterol levels, but a few positive changes such as healthier dietary choices can help bring them back under control.
Here are some heart-healthy eating and cooking tips from Heart.org to help you keep your cholesterol levels within healthy levels and reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease:
Eat more fish
Fish, especially the fatty kind like salmon and herring, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce your risk for heart disease, heart failure or stroke.
Eat less meat
Nowadays, there are tastier meat substitutes that can help you cut out fatty meat from your diet. Do a quick search on meat-free recipes and you’ll find there are plenty of options for you.
Reduce saturated fat intake from meat and poultry
Select leaner cuts of meat, with little visible fat. You can also trim visible fat from any meat before cooking. Opt to broil them instead of frying, and use a rack to drain off excess fat. You can also minimize your saturated fat intake by staying away from processed meats such as salami, bologna, and sausages.
Use liquid vegetable oils instead of solid fats
Liquid vegetable oils such as olive or canola, are heart-healthy substitutes to solid fats like lard and butter.
Increase intake of whole grains and fiber
Steer clear from white bread or rice, and switch to whole grain varieties. You can also add more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to your diet such as, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.
Read the full article by Heart.org here for more tips on how to cook your way to preventing high cholesterol. To get started on your journey to lowering your cholesterol levels, check out these amazing low cholesterol recipes from Food Network.