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How to reduce cholesterol with diet therapy?

Cholesterol is mainly affected by hereditary factors, weight control, smoking and lack of exercise. And although cholesterol is not primarily affected by the foods we eat, in some cases dietary cholesterol does play a part. See our guide below on how to get a handle on your cholesterol by limiting certain foods and eating more of others.



A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is desired to keep your total fat consumption--saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated--to fewer than 30 percent of your daily intake of calories. Remember to keep your cholesterol intake to fewer than 300 milligrams per day. Saturated fats contained in butter, whole milk, hydrogenated oils, chocolate shortening, etc. should comprise no more than one third of your total fat consumption. To reduce your total fat and cholesterol intake, limit your consumption of meats such as beef, pork, liver and tongue (always trim away excess fat). In addition, avoid cheese, fried foods, nuts and cream, and try to curb your intake of eggs to no more than four per week. Try to eat meatless meals several times a week, use skim milk and include fish in your diet. Eat a wide variety of vegetables, pasta, grains and fruit. Another good tip is to look at the package label of the foods you buy, and restrict your choices to foods containing 3 grams of fat or less per serving.

There is evidence that water-soluble fibers can aid in lowering cholesterol; these foods include the fiber in oat or corn bran, beans and legumes, pectin found in apples and other fruits, and guar that is used as a thickener. Although highly touted by the media and health food stores, the phospholipid Lecithin has not been confirmed as a reducer of blood cholesterol levels.

If you are overweight, trying to lose weight and including aerobic exercise in your routine can help raise those desirable high density lipoproteins levels. Diet and exercise alone can decrease cholesterol levels by up to 15 percent.

Guidelines for lowering your high blood cholesterol with dietary therapies.

  • Eat less than 30% of your total daily calories from fat.
  • Eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.
  • Eat 50-60% of your daily calories from carbohydrates.
  • Adjust your caloric intake to achieve or maintain a desirable weight.
  • Foods to limit:

  • Fat. Cutting back on fried foods, puddings, biscuits, crisps, pies and chips can give you a double benefit: lower cholesterol and lower body weight. Instead, choose reduced fat products such as low-fat soured cream and cream cheese, fat-free yoghurt, skimmed milk and granola.
  • Sweets or puddings labelled ‘low-fat’. A low-fat brownie is still a brownie, and it still has loads of calories and fat. These types of reduced-fat foods shouldn't be part of your daily diet.
  • Red meat. You don’t have to cut meat out of your diet, just reduce your portion sizes to about three ounces, or the size of your palm. More than that is over the top in calories, fat and cholesterol.
  • Some dairy products. Watch out for your intake of foods high in cholesterol like cheese, sour cream and butter.
  • Trans fatty acids.You won't always find these trans fats listed on food labels, but they are mostly found in foods containing hydrogenated oils, meaning they start as liquid and are chemically changed to solids at room temperature. The hydrogenation process is used in making stick margarine and solid vegetable shortening, and hydrogenated fats are used in commercial baked goods such as puddings, biscuits and other snacks. Look for the word 'hydrogenated' on the label and try to limit these foods.
  • More information on cholesterol

    What is cholesterol? - Cholesterol is a steroid lipid, found in the cell membranes of all body tissues, and transported in the blood plasma, of all animals.
    What is LDL cholesterol? - Low-density lipoprotein (or "bad") cholesterol carries the largest amount of cholesterol in the blood and is responsible for depositing cholesterol in the artery walls. An elevated LDL cholesterol level is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
    Why is LDL cholesterol considered "bad"? - When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain.
    What is HDL cholesterol? - High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is one of several types of fats and is measured as 'Total Cholesterol'. HDL is thought to pick up cholesterol from body tissues and bring it back to the liver for reprocessing or excretion.
    Why is HDL cholesterol considered "good"? - Because HDL clears cholesterol out of the system and high levels of it are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, HDL is often called "good" cholesterol.
    How to raise HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol)? - Regular aerobic exercise, loss of excess weight (fat), and cessation of cigarette smoking cigarettes will increase HDL cholesterol levels.
    How cholesterol is measured and tested? - Cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, usually shortened to "mmol/litre" or "mmol/l".
    What're the cholesterol readings? - Cholesterol readings you receive from your medical provider generally include total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and high density lipoproteins cholesterol levels.
    How often should my cholesterol be checked? - According to a new set of national guidelines governing cholesterol measurement and treatment, it is recommended that the level be treated every 5 years.
    What causes high cholesterol? - High cholesterol is caused by eating a diet that is high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Some people, however, have an inherited disorder in which the body cannot properly metabolize cholesterol.
    What are the high cholesterol risk factors? - A diet high in certain types of fats is one factor. Medical problems such as poorly controlled diabetes, an underactive thyroid gland, an overactive pituitary gland, liver disease or kidney failure also may cause high cholesterol levels.
    What're the symptoms of high cholesterol? - People with severely elevated cholesterol may have fat deposits in tendons and skin, liver and spleen enlargement, and abdominal pain if pancreatitis develops.
    What are triglycerides? - Triglycerides are another type of fat that is associated with adverse health consequences. Many patients with high cholesterol also have high triglycerides.
    How to test triglycerides? - For triglycerides testing, blood is drawn from a vein in the arm. A vein at the inside of the elbow or on the back of the hand is usually selected.
    How can LDL cholesterol levels be lowered? - Lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol involves losing excess weight, exercising regularly, and following a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
    How to reduce cholesterol with dietary therapy? - A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is desired to keep your total fat consumption--saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated--to fewer than 30 percent of your daily intake of calories.
    What about when I go out to eat? - Avoid fried foods. Entrees covered with sauces, as well as creamy dressing, thick soups and casseroles should be avoided because they are usually rich in fat. Look for items labeled "heart-healthy" on the menu.
    What cholesterol medications are available to lower cholesterol? - Cholesterol-reducing drugs include cholestyramine (Questran), colestipol (Colestid), gemfibrozil (Lopid), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol) and simvastatin (Zocor).
    What nutritional supplements are available to reduce cholesterol? - Artichoke is particularly helpful in relieving gastrointestinal problems that result from an inability to adequately process fats. Garlic assists the heart for centuries and has been used in herbal medicines for all manner of conditions.
    What cholesterol lowering food are there? - Eating more fiber-rich foods may help to lower your blood cholesterol level. Soy products are also linked to reduced cholesterol because of their isoflavone content.
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