Understanding LDL And HDL Cholesterol
Most people are aware of cholesterol as a problematic health issue. But the truth is that there are items known as LDL and HDL. LDL is the bad cholesterol that people try to avoid. High levels of bad cholesterol can increase an individual’s risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a stroke. In contrast, HDL is known as good cholesterol and can absorb and carry bad cholesterol to the liver for disposal from the body. While some foods can contribute to LDL levels, select foods are proven to improve and safeguard heart health.
Add oats and whole grains
Nutritional guidelines recommend that people get 20-35 grams of fiber every day. But the average American only eats about half the recommended amount. Incorporating a bowl of oatmeal or adding healthy whole grains to a healthy diet can increase overall soluble fiber intake and lower heart disease risk.
Pick healthier fats
Many people think that all fat is bad, but picking the right fats can make a difference. While everyone should limit daily total fat intakes, opting for unsaturated fats over saturated fats is a better option. Saturated fats can raise LDL levels. In contrast, unsaturated fats found in lean cuts of meat, nuts, and even healthy oils like canola or olive oil are a better alternative.
Increasing fatty fish intake
Fatty fish might sound counterintuitive, but some types of fish have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps to reduce triglycerides, a kind of fat that’s specifically found in the blood. But omega-3 can also lower blood pressure and minimize the risk of developing blood clots. While omega-3 fatty acids don’t directly impact LDL levels, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating at least two servings of fatty fish a week because of the heart-healthy benefits. Fatty fish include:
Rethink cooking methods
Fried foods or dishes basted in drippings are tasty, but cooking foods with solid fats or drippings can increase unhealthy fat intake and contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels. Instead, skip pan-frying and opt for healthier methods like broiling or baking. And be sure to include a rack so that the fat drains off of the meat. Likewise, marinate foods with wines, fruit juice, or even healthier oil-based marinades instead of using the drippings from the meat.
Cut back on processed meats
Lunch meats and hot dogs can be a great go-to for quick meals, but processed meats are often high in calories and saturated fats. Likewise, processed meats can often be high in sodium. So, for better heart health, keep processed meat consumption to a minimum.
A healthy diet for better heart health
While adopting a new diet can be an unexpected change, the benefits far outweigh any misgivings. Try incorporating leaner cuts of meat, increasing produce consumption, and relying on savory herbs and spices to season foods. Patients should also opt for lower fat dairy products and use vegetable-based oils instead of solid fats for cooking. For more information about heart health, speak with a healthcare provider.