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10 simple tips to help regulate your cholesterol level


(NaturalNews) If you are one of the 73.5 million Americans who struggles with unhealthy cholesterol levels, then heart-healthy lifestyle changes may save your life. High cholesterol levels contribute to plaque formation (or fat deposits) in the arteries, which raise the risk of developing coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke.

As noted by Dr. Lim Su Lin, chief dietitian at the National University Hospital in Singapore, each 1mmol/L of total cholesterol above the normal limit of 5.2mmol/L is associated with a 35 percent increased risk of death from a heart condition, and a 25 percent increased risk of a stroke due to blockage of blood vessels.

"Some people grow up thinking that it is normal to eat ... cakes for breakfast every day. Many people like to blame their high cholesterol levels on genetics because it absolves them from having to take responsibility for it," she told The Straits Times.

She noted however, that it is never too late to stop blaming your genes and do something about it. While we can't change our genes, we have the choice whether or not to eat a heart-friendly diet and drink plenty of filtered water to minimize the harmful effects.

Here are Dr. Lim Su Lin's top 10 tips to control cholesterol naturally:

1. Avoid trans-fats
Trans-fat is the worst when it comes to heart health. It has been shown to double the risk of heart disease in women. Trans-fats can be found in processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated fat or shortening. These foods include baked goods, French fries and confectionery.

2. Say no to deep-fried foods
When eating out, Dr. Lim Su Lin recommends avoiding deep-fried foods. The oils are often reused many times, which produces harmful compounds that may increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

3. Limit your saturated fat intake
Saturated fat increases LDL, or bad cholesterol, which may lead to heart disease and stroke. It is estimated that saturated fat causes 31 percent of all coronary heart diseases and 11 percent of strokes worldwide. Saturated fats can be found in animal products such as meat, dairy and lard.

4. Choose the right cooking oil
Furthermore, Dr. Lim Su Lin recommends cooking with a healthy unsaturated oil, such as olive oil. Olive oil is well known for its heart-healthy effects. It can raise good cholesterol levels, and lowers the amount of bad cholesterol.

5. Opt for lean meat
To protect your heart, choose lean meats and remove visible fat and skin before cooking and eating. Also, make sure to include more fish in your diet, as fish contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

6. Reduce dairy intake
Try to keep dairy products to an absolute minimum, and choose low-fat options – such as skim milk – instead.

7. Limit cholesterol intake
Although the body needs cholesterol to function properly, most of us just eat too much of it. Dr. Lim Su Lin said that we do not need to avoid high-cholesterol foods such as eggs and shellfish completely, however, she emphasized that moderation is key.

8. Fiber up
Soluble fibers play a key role in cholesterol reduction by binding cholesterol to bile acid in the small intestines. Foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, oat bran, barley, fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans and nuts.

9. Snack wisely
Instead of grabbing a trans-fat rich and sugary snack, opt for fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts instead.

10. Get moving
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent. To reap the full benefit, it is recommended to engage in 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, such as brisk walking, sports, swimming or dancing, at least three times a week.

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