We've talked about how we can use nutrition to prevent and even treat some chronic diseases, like hypertension and diabetes, and today we're discussing another chronic disease: cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in our body’s cells and many of the foods that we eat. Our bodies need some cholesterol to make hormones and vitamin D as well as to aid in digestion, however, if there is too much in the body, it builds up and creates plaque. Plaque sticks to the inside of arteries causing them to narrow and clog which can lead to blood clots, stroke or heart disease.
Cholesterol comes in 2 main types – HDL and LDL. HDL is the “good” cholesterol since it helps remove excess cholesterol from the body. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol since it’s the type that contributes to plaque formation and the issues associated. When you get your cholesterol checked, you’ll see the levels for both types.
There are many contributing factors to your cholesterol level – genetics, age, medicine that you take, your weight, diet, activity level and whether or not you smoke.
But, no matter what the cause, anyone with high LDL cholesterol can benefit from changes to their nutrition. One of the main tips I give to my clients with high cholesterol is to increase their FIBER intake! Soluble fiber has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. In the stomach, soluble fiber forms a thick, jelly-like substance, which helps bind dietary cholesterol from foods you’re eating.
So, what are some foods with high levels of soluble fiber? Fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains are powerhouses of soluble fiber. Make sure to check out my post from yesterday about fiber-rich fruits! Vegetables like asparagus, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and turnips are loaded with fiber. Try to eat a meatless meal during the week and swap out meat for beans or lentils. Barley, oats and oat bran and great sources and make sure your bread is 100% whole grain or lists whole grain as the first ingredient to ensure highest levels of fiber.
Do you think about the fiber content of your foods? If you have high cholesterol, making changes to include fiber-rich foods can make a difference. If you want more information, tailored to you and your personal situation, reach out today and let’s talk. 540-599-9378
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