5 Ways to Lower Cholesterol

(CNN) -- Cholesterol has long been seen as a villain for heart health, but our understanding of this beast is changing. New recommendations suggest that risk factors should determine who should receive drugs called statins to lower cholesterol levels, and who should simply make lifestyle changes to combat the problem.

Anyone with diabetes, heart disease, "bad" cholesterol over 190 or a 10-year risk of heart attack above 7.5% should be taking a statin, the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology say. Everyone else with high cholesterol: Take matters into your own hands.

There's the caveat, too, that not all cholesterol is alike. There's "good" cholesterol -- high-density lipoprotein, or HDL -- that you want to maintain relatively high, and "bad" cholesterol -- low-density lipoprotein, or LDL -- that needs to be kept at bay.

Here are some lifestyle modifications you can try, with an eye toward pushing the bad cholesterol down and the good toward healthy levels. Keep in mind that, according to the American Heart Association, these strategies may not be enough, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about what treatment plan is best for you.

1. Lose weight

You may be able to reduce cholesterol levels significantly by losing 5% to 10% of your body weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Accomplishing that isn't necessarily easy, but you can begin with small steps. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine in simple ways, such as walking up and down stairs. Replace a fast-food lunch with a homemade, healthy meal and munch on carrot sticks instead of potato chips.

Slowly introducing more exercise and healthier foods can have a big impact on your weight and, by extension, lower your cholesterol.

I'm now a 175-pound 'ninja'

Healthy weight is so important for overall heart health, in fact, that the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released a new report calling for physicians to create customized weight loss plans and recommend counseling with a dietitian or certified weight loss professional for at least six months. Doctors should also offer bariatric surgery as a potential option for some patients with high body mass index, the report said.

11 simple weight loss tips

2. Be a picky eater 

What you eat can make a big difference in cholesterol.

Watch out for saturated fats, which lurk in red meat and dairy products. The Mayo Clinic recommends that less than 7% of daily calories come from saturated fat. Alternatives include leaner meat cuts, low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats, which you can get from olive, peanut and canola oils.

But avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil -- an ingredient that signals the presence of trans fat, a feature of fried foods and many commercial baked products.

Even products that say "trans fat-free" may not be truly clean of these fats; in the United States, the "trans fat-free" label can be stuck on any food with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Such small quantities can add up, so check ingredients for partially hydrogenated oil.

Health.com: 20 low-cholesterol meals

In general, you should consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily, and if you have heart disease or diabetes, that number goes down to 200. Organ meats such as liver, egg yolks and whole milk products are full of cholesterol; you can replace them with lean meat cuts, egg substitutes and skim milk.

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables can all help lower cholesterol. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower bad cholesterol, too; these include certain fish -- salmon, mackerel and herring -- as well as walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseed.

Oatmeal is another fighter of bad cholesterol as it contains soluble fiber, which can reduce cholesterol's absorption into the bloodstream. Kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes are also good sources of soluble fiber.

Higher 'good' cholesterol linked to lower cancer risk

3. Get active

Aim to exercise 30 minutes per day, with your doctor's approval, and you can be on your way to reducing overall cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. Your weight loss journey can begin with 10-minute intervals of physical activity multiple times a day.

Look for opportunities to add exercise. Can you squeeze in a walk during your lunch hour? Can you ride your bike to work? Can you get a sports game going, or take an early-morning run? When you watch TV, can you do some situps?

Finding an exercise partner can help, too. You might also consider starting or joining a group that works out together.

4. No more cigarettes

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, so it will come as no surprise that smoking is harmful to the heart. If you quit smoking, you may improve your good cholesterol level.

What's more, your blood pressure decreases within 20 minutes after quitting,according to the Mayo Clinic. Risk of heart attack lowers within 24 hours of quitting smoking, and within a year the risk of heart disease is just half that of someone who smokes. Heart disease risk drops to levels similar to people who have never smoked within 15 years of quitting.

5. Lower alcohol consumption

Excessive drinking of alcohol may lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. That's why it's recommended that women of all ages and men older than 65 only drink up to one alcoholic beverage per day; for men 65 and under, stick to up to two drinks.

Interestingly, high levels of good cholesterol have been linked to moderate use of alcohol, but this connection hasn't been demonstrated strongly enough to recommend alcohol to nondrinkers.

While these lifestyle changes can be useful, sometimes doctors still need to prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications. If your cholesterol is high, talk to your health care provider and come up with an easy-to-manage plan of attack.

By: Elizabeth Landau

Orginal Article: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/health/lower-cholesterol/index.html?hpt=he_t4

More Nutritional Health...

(CNN) -- Cholesterol has long been seen as a villain for heart health, but our understanding of this beast is changing. New recommendations suggest that risk factors should determine who should receive drugs called statins to lower cholesterol levels, and who should simply make lifestyle changes to combat the problem.

Anyone with diabetes, heart disease, "bad" cholesterol over 190 or a 10-year risk of heart attack above 7.5% should be taking a statin, the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology say. Everyone else with high cholesterol: Take matters into your own hands.

There's the caveat, too, that not all cholesterol is alike. There's "good" cholesterol -- high-density lipoprotein, or HDL -- that you want to maintain relatively high, and "bad" cholesterol -- low-density lipoprotein, or LDL -- that needs to be kept at bay.

Here are some lifestyle modifications you can try, with an eye toward pushing the bad cholesterol down and the good toward healthy levels. Keep in mind that, according to the American Heart Association, these strategies may not be enough, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about what treatment plan is best for you.

1. Lose weight

You may be able to reduce cholesterol levels significantly by losing 5% to 10% of your body weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Accomplishing that isn't necessarily easy, but you can begin with small steps. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine in simple ways, such as walking up and down stairs. Replace a fast-food lunch with a homemade, healthy meal and munch on carrot sticks instead of potato chips.

Slowly introducing more exercise and healthier foods can have a big impact on your weight and, by extension, lower your cholesterol.

I'm now a 175-pound 'ninja'

Healthy weight is so important for overall heart health, in fact, that the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released a new report calling for physicians to create customized weight loss plans and recommend counseling with a dietitian or certified weight loss professional for at least six months. Doctors should also offer bariatric surgery as a potential option for some patients with high body mass index, the report said.

11 simple weight loss tips

2. Be a picky eater 

What you eat can make a big difference in cholesterol.

Watch out for saturated fats, which lurk in red meat and dairy products. The Mayo Clinic recommends that less than 7% of daily calories come from saturated fat. Alternatives include leaner meat cuts, low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats, which you can get from olive, peanut and canola oils.

But avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil -- an ingredient that signals the presence of trans fat, a feature of fried foods and many commercial baked products.

Even products that say "trans fat-free" may not be truly clean of these fats; in the United States, the "trans fat-free" label can be stuck on any food with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Such small quantities can add up, so check ingredients for partially hydrogenated oil.

Health.com: 20 low-cholesterol meals

In general, you should consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily, and if you have heart disease or diabetes, that number goes down to 200. Organ meats such as liver, egg yolks and whole milk products are full of cholesterol; you can replace them with lean meat cuts, egg substitutes and skim milk.

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables can all help lower cholesterol. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower bad cholesterol, too; these include certain fish -- salmon, mackerel and herring -- as well as walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseed.

Oatmeal is another fighter of bad cholesterol as it contains soluble fiber, which can reduce cholesterol's absorption into the bloodstream. Kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes are also good sources of soluble fiber.

Higher 'good' cholesterol linked to lower cancer risk

3. Get active

Aim to exercise 30 minutes per day, with your doctor's approval, and you can be on your way to reducing overall cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. Your weight loss journey can begin with 10-minute intervals of physical activity multiple times a day.

Look for opportunities to add exercise. Can you squeeze in a walk during your lunch hour? Can you ride your bike to work? Can you get a sports game going, or take an early-morning run? When you watch TV, can you do some situps?

Finding an exercise partner can help, too. You might also consider starting or joining a group that works out together.

4. No more cigarettes

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, so it will come as no surprise that smoking is harmful to the heart. If you quit smoking, you may improve your good cholesterol level.

What's more, your blood pressure decreases within 20 minutes after quitting,according to the Mayo Clinic. Risk of heart attack lowers within 24 hours of quitting smoking, and within a year the risk of heart disease is just half that of someone who smokes. Heart disease risk drops to levels similar to people who have never smoked within 15 years of quitting.

5. Lower alcohol consumption

Excessive drinking of alcohol may lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. That's why it's recommended that women of all ages and men older than 65 only drink up to one alcoholic beverage per day; for men 65 and under, stick to up to two drinks.

Interestingly, high levels of good cholesterol have been linked to moderate use of alcohol, but this connection hasn't been demonstrated strongly enough to recommend alcohol to nondrinkers.

While these lifestyle changes can be useful, sometimes doctors still need to prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications. If your cholesterol is high, talk to your health care provider and come up with an easy-to-manage plan of attack.

By: Elizabeth Landau

Orginal Article: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/health/lower-cholesterol/index.html?hpt=he_t4

Take the thinking out of meal prep, suggests trainer Brett Hoebel: Find a few fast, healthy recipes for each meal of the day and keep the ingredients on hand.

It's time to put up or shut up. But that doesn't mean you have to go for broke eating healthy. The myth that eating healthy is too costly is just that: a myth. Here's the truth behind the lies about healthy eating and what it will cost you.

When it comes to eating healthy, decision is the ultimate power. Make the decision to lead a healthy lifestyle and become powerful instead of powerless.

The Money

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "fast food is the cheapest option in my neighborhood," or "I really can't afford to eat healthy right now." The fact is a $2 bag of brown rice, $15 package of chicken and $10 in bulk veggies can feed a family of four for an entire week! This option costs much less than a $4 fast food meal each weeknight (if you can find a fast food meal that cheap these days).

Get real. There are far too many programs, web apps and meal plans that will literally show you how to eat healthy on a budget, so don't knock it until you actually try it!

The Time

"I don't have time," you say? Please … do I really have to list all the screen time on the Internet we use up doing absolutely nothing for our health? Not mention our drive time and leisure time going to waste.

Incorporate planning for meals into your daily routine, and multi-task when you can. Cooking takes up valuable time, so if you are working hard throughout the week, I suggest preparing meals in bulk on a day off, and keeping a go-to list of quick recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner so you can make healthy meals on the go.

The Taste

"These vegetables are bland," It continues to shock me how many people dislike whole foods and exchange them for processed ones. But guess what all of the processed foods try to mimic? The taste of whole foods.

 

Skittles are fruit-flavored, but a natural kiwi, mango, and peach are so tasty without any additives. Tossed vegetables with herbs and olive oil are divine, but we give them up for bland-tasting fried potatoes drenched in ketchup – talk about bland.

Don't believe the hype: Healthy food IS tasty, and unhealthy food is some of the most bland stuff on the planet. That's why the ample amounts of salt, sugar and other additives have to be added to processed foods – they don't have any flavor! So don't get fooled. Taste can be altered. Just take the time to find the best recipes for healthy foods that meet your taste expectations.

Grocery Shopping Tips

• Avoid the white devils – white sugar, white milk, white rice, white salt and white flour.

• Focus on lean, healthy protein like chicken or fish, loads of fruits, veggies and nuts and a huge helping of H2O!

• Stick to brown or wild rice if necessary, and choose almond milk over dairy when you can.

• Use unprocessed, Himalayan salt and a healthy dose of fresh herbs and spices for seasoning.

• Purchase healthy fats like coconut oil, egg and avocado.

The Steps to Eating Healthy at All Costs

1. Skip the four-syllable ingredients: If you can't imagine your breakfast bar growing out of the ground, falling off of a tree or running around in the wild, it probably isn't a whole food! A nutrition label with ingredients you can't pronounce is a processed mess you should avoid. My rule of thumb: three ingredients or less, period.

2. Stay away from packages: A general rule of thumb is the more packaging, the more processed. If you can pick up the piece of produce or have the butcher pass you the meat, you are in good shape. Frozen, dried, canned, bagged or boxed food is usually not whole food. Be very wary of terminology like "all-natural," "natural-tasting," "lite" or "low-calorie." Whole foods don't need a marketing campaign; they're healthy, and you know it.

3. Check the expiration date: If the product doesn't expire until next year and is from a land far, far away, it is likely chock full of nasty preservatives. If it doesn't expire on the shelf for months and months, what makes you think your stomach will easily digest it?

The first step is always the hardest because it takes a few weeks for your body to get used to the new way of eating, and many people have withdraws and cravings in the beginning. Instead of focusing on the food, focus on your positivity and health, and keep smiling. After four weeks of eating healthy, you will become happier and more energized. In twelve weeks, your family and friends will notice the difference and need to know your secret.

You are what you eat. Sound off…

By: Brett Hoebel

Orginal Article: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/essential-tips-eating-healthy-budget-article-1.1528712

Can I Splurge When I Eat Out?

A slice of pizza once in a while won't do you any harm. What's important is a person's average food intake over a few days, not just in a single meal. So if you eat a less-than-healthy meal once in a while, try to balance it with healthier foods the rest of that day and week.

But if pizza (or any fast food) is all you eat, that can lead to problems. The most obvious health threat of eating too much fast food is weight gain — or even obesity.

But weight gain isn't the only problem. Too much fast food can drag a person's body down in other ways. Because the food we eat affects all aspects of how the body functions, eating the right (or wrong) foods can influence any number of things, including:

  • mental functioning
  • emotional well-being
  • energy
  • strength
  • weight
  • future health

Eating on the Go

It's actually easier than you think to make good choices at a fast-food restaurant, the mall, or even the school cafeteria. Most cafeterias and fast-food places offer healthy choices that are also tasty, like grilled chicken or salads. Be mindful of portion sizes and high fat add-ons, like dressings, sauces or cheese.

Here are some pointers to remember that can help you make wise choices when eating out:

  • Go for balance. Choose meals that contain a balance of lean proteins (like fish, chicken, or beans if you're a vegetarian), fruits and vegetables (fries and potato chips don't qualify as veggies!), and whole grains (like whole-wheat bread and brown rice). That's why a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato is a better choice than a cheeseburger on a white bun.
  • Watch portion sizes. The portion sizes of American foods have increased over the past few decades so that we are now eating way more than we need. The average size of a hamburger in the 1950s was just 1.5 ounces, compared with today's hamburgers, which weigh in at 8 ounces or more.
  • Drink water or low-fat milk.Regular sodas, juices, and energy drinks usually contain "empty" calories that you don't need — not to mention other stuff, like caffeine.

Tips for Eating at a Restaurant

Most restaurant portions are way larger than the average serving of food at home. Ask for half portions, share an entrée with a friend, or take half of your dish home.

Here are some other restaurant survival tips:

  • Ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side and use them sparingly.
  • Use salsa and mustard instead of mayonnaise or oil.
  • Ask for olive or canola oil instead of butter, margarine, or shortening.
  • Use nonfat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk or cream.
  • Order baked, broiled, or grilled (not fried) lean meats including turkey, chicken, seafood, or sirloin steak.
  • Salads and vegetables make healthier side dishes than french fries. Use a small amount of sour cream instead of butter if you order a baked potato.
  • Choose fresh fruit instead of sugary, high-fat desserts.

Tips for Eating at the Mall or Fast-Food Place

It's tempting to pig out while shopping, but with a little planning, it's easy to eat healthy foods at the mall. Here are some choices:

  • a single slice of veggie pizza
  • grilled, not fried, sandwiches (for example, a grilled chicken breast sandwich)
  • deli sandwiches on whole-grain bread
  • a small hamburger
  • a bean burrito
  • a baked potato
  • a side salad
  • frozen yogurt

Choose the smaller sizes, especially when it comes to drinks and snacks. If you have a craving for something unhealthy, try sharing the food you crave with a friend.

Tips for Eating in the School Caf

The suggestions for eating in a restaurant and at the mall apply to cafeteria food as well. Add vegetables and fruit whenever possible, and opt for leaner, lighter items. Choose sandwiches on whole-grain bread or a plain hamburger over fried foods or pizza. Go easy on the high-fat, low-nutrition items, such as mayonnaise and heavy salad dressings.

You might want to consider packing your own lunch occasionally. Here are some lunch items that pack a healthy punch:

  • sandwiches with lean meats or fish, like turkey, chicken, tuna (made with low-fat mayo), lean ham, or lean roast beef. For variety, try other sources of protein, like peanut butter, hummus, or meatless chili. If you don't like your bread dry, choose mustard or a small amount of lite mayo.
  • low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, or cheese
  • any fruit that's in season
  • raw baby carrots, green and red pepper strips, tomatoes, or cucumbers
  • whole-grain breads, pita, bagels, or crackers

It can be easy to eat well, even on the run. If you develop the skills to make healthy choices now, your body will thank you later. And the good news is you don't have to eat perfectly all the time. It's OK to splurge every once in a while, as long as your food choices are generally good.

 

By: Marvin L. Gavin, MD

Original Article: http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/eating_out.html

Breaking Your Bad Eating Habits

                  Everyone has an unhealthy eating habit that they struggle with, but breaking habits is a whole different story. A recent study found that most people don’t realize their bad eating habits, and they tend to do them without realizing they are completing the act. “Once a task becomes second nature, the brain essentially shut down,” Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

                  If this is the case, learning how to break your bad eating habits may be a bigger challenge then most people think. But, there is still hope. As research shows the best way to break your bad eating habits is to change your environment. If you eat in the same place every single day, you may eat the same types of foods in that spot. If you move to a different spot, the new environment may make it easier to create a new and healthier habit.

                  Although willpower is important in maintain new eating habits; it is also important to change other things in your life to ensure success in your diet. Learn to change your environment, and you will be one step closer to a healthier lifestyle.

For more information check out this article from CNN http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/09/health/healthy-eating-habits/index.html