Your food choices directly influence your health and well-being. Even making a few changes to what you eat can go a long way when it comes to your health.
At MS Family Medicine Health Care PC in ROSEDALE AND GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK, our team, led by board-certified family medicine physician Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, focuses on wellness and preventive care. We work closely with our patients, helping them create a lifestyle that benefits their health now and in the future.
High cholesterol is common and a risk factor for heart disease. Nutrition is one of the first lines of treatment for high cholesterol. Here, we want to talk about cholesterol and how you can manage your levels with good nutrition.
Cholesterol is a type of fat made in your liver. Your body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, certain hormones, and vitamin D. In the right amounts, cholesterol is necessary and beneficial.
However, if you have too much cholesterol in your blood, the waxy fat combines with minerals and other materials to make plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that attaches to the walls of your blood vessels, narrowing these passageways.
When you have narrowing or blockages in the arteries from a buildup of plaque, you have atherosclerosis, which is also called a hardening of the arteries. High cholesterol and atherosclerosis are risk factors for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Foods that can increase cholesterol
Though your genetics may influence your cholesterol numbers, lifestyle choices are a major factor in the development of high cholesterol. When it comes to high cholesterol, what you eat can directly influence your numbers.
For example, eating foods high in saturated fat — which is fat that’s found in red meat, butter, cheese, and whole fat dairy products — can increase your blood cholesterol levels. Though some of these foods also contain cholesterol, research shows it’s not the cholesterol in these foods that’s the problem.
Rather, it’s the saturated fat in these foods that can make your blood cholesterol numbers go up. So, if you regularly eat products that contain a lot of saturated fat — such as red meat — consider choosing other options, such as lean meats and poultry without the skin.
Foods that can lower cholesterol
Eating foods high in soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, peas, nuts, apples, and oranges, may help lower your blood cholesterol, which, in turn, may reduce your risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease. This type of fiber grabs onto cholesterol in your digestive tract, preventing you from absorbing it.
Furthermore, eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can lower your triglycerides and boost your heart and overall health. This is why we recommend eating two servings of fatty fish — such as salmon and tuna — every week. These essential fats are also found in walnuts and flax seeds.
In general, the best way to stay healthy is to fill your diet with nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy sources of protein. And, if you’re new to this, you don’t have to be perfect. Try adding a banana to your morning cereal and choosing a bag of mixed nuts (preferably unsalted) over a bag of chips for your mid-afternoon snack. Small steps can make a difference.
Nutrition is an important part of your wellness plan and something you need to actively pursue. But, you don’t have to manage your wellness all on your own. Our team at MS Family Medicine Health Care PC can help you create a plan that works for you and your lifestyle. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today. We also offer telehealth appointments.