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Cholesterol Management

10 February 2019

Cholesterol Management

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 31 million Americans have high cholesterol. High cholesterol is defined as a total cholesterol level greater than 240 mg/dL. This means that one in every ten Americans is well over the ideal range of 200 mg/dL or less.


Excess cholesterol leads to increased risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, numbness in extremities, gallstones, chest pain and other ailments.  Due to these serious health risks associated with elevated cholesterol levels, it is recommended that everybody over the age of 20 have their cholesterol levels screened every five years. After the age of 35 for men and 45 for women, screenings should be conducted more frequently. If high cholesterol levels are detected in routine screenings, a physician will likely recommend that cholesterol levels be checked more often. The screening tool utilized in monitoring cholesterol levels is called a lipid profile and breaks down the different types of cholesterol in the body. Lipid profiles consist of LDL, HDL and triglycerides.


  • Low Density LipoproteinLDL (low density lipoprotein) – BAD cholesterol. LDL’s are soft and globular molecules, made up of cholesterol and protein. They carry cholesterol from the liver to tissues of the body. Normal LDL levels are necessary for healthy cell membranes and hormone production. Excessive LDLs essentially “clog up” blood flow. Their soft texture allows them to stick to blood vessel walls reducing blood flow throughout the body. Over time these sticky globs can harden into more permanent circulation restricting fixtures called plaque.


  • Lower your LDLs by avoiding bad fats (saturated and trans) that will contribute to your LDL count. Common sources of bad fats:
    • Processed snacks – chips, microwave popcorn, crackers.
    • Sweets – soda, donuts, ice cream, cookies.
    • Animal products – whole milk, butter, cheese, fatty meats (bacon, burgers, fried anything).



  • HDL (high density lipoproteins) – GOOD cholesterol. LDLs are molecules made of a more fibrous composition. They do not stick to blood vessel walls like their counterparts and can actually break up the deposits caused by LDLs.High Density Lipoproteins


  • Raise HDLs through consistent exercise and HDL friendly foods:
    • HDL friendly foods – beans, nuts, whole grains, high fiber fruits (raspberries, mango, pears), cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring), flax and other seeds. Work a variety of these foods in to your regular routine.
    • A minimum of 60 minutes of intense aerobic exercise is recommended per week in order to elevate HDL levels.
    • Research supports that eating a meal high in healthy fats post workout may increase overall benefits to HDL.

Eating at home is the best way to manage a healthy diet. Planning meals ahead of time and precooking ensure that you are able to stay on track. The following meal plan options are based on the American Heart Association’s cholesterol friendly recommendations which are as follows:



  • 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Saturated fats should only make up about 7 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need about 2,000 calories a day, less than 140 calories (or 16 grams) should come from saturated fats.
  • Trans fats should make up less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need about 2,000 calories a day, less than 20 calories (or 2 grams) should come from trans fats.


Meal # Options

1. Steel cut oatmeal, prepared with water, add cinnamon & flax seed. Egg whites scrambled, add salsa or seasoning for flavor

2. Greek scramble: egg whites, peppers and spinach, scrambled or omelet style (use extra virgin olive oil on pan).  Two pieces of whole wheat bread toasted, no butter, natural jelly is okay.
3. DIY raisin nut bran cereal (1 cup bran flakes cereal-Kellogg’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes, 2 tablespoons each raisins and slivered almonds) served with almond milk of fat free milk.


1. Almonds and apple slices.

2. Pico de Gallo (brown rice, egg whites scrambled, chopped pepper and other veggies).
3. Odwalla Super Protein Bar.


1. Whole grain, grilled chicken, extra veggies wrap. Season chicken with dry seasonings such as chili powder, paprika, Mrs. Dash. Recommended condiments: olive oil, vinegar, mustard.

2. Turkey club sandwich. Whole wheat bread, no cheese, no bacon, no mayo.
3. Bean salad: 2 cups pinto beans, 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 peeled and diced cucumber, ¼ cup of feta cheese, top with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


1. Marinara based scallops and pasta. Scallop Pasta Recipe

2. BBQ pulled chicken sandwich with side salad.  BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe
3. Salmon and veggies. Salmon Recipe

5 (optional)

1. Raspberries and sliced almonds.

2. Steamed edamame.
3. Carrots and hummus.


Cholesterol is extremely difficult to avoid entirely. So consider the necessary evils of real life when not every meal can be planned every time. Eating out is rarely as healthy of a choice as a home cooked meal. Know your low cholesterol options before you go to help you stick to smart choices and avoid unhealthy impulse eats.


McDonald’s  (Cholesterol Estimate)


Fruit and Yogurt Parfait 5 mg
Chicken McGrill Sandwich (no cheese, no mayo) 28 mg
Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad (oil based dressing) 22 mg

Burger King (Cholesterol Estimate)


Quaker Oatmeal 5 mg
Veggie Burger (no cheese, no mayo) 5 mg
Flame Grilled Chicken Burger (no cheese, no mayo) 5 mg


Dine In Restaurant (Cholesterol Estimate)


Asian Salad (oil based dressing, no fried noodles) 5 mg
Buffalo Grilled Chicken Wrap (no cheese) 25 mg
Grilled grouper sandwich (no mayo, no cheese) 31 mg


Much of the cholesterol in our bodies is produced in the liver. High baseline cholesterol levels can sometimes be hereditary and your healthcare provider may recommend statin medications to control cholesterol levels. While statins are effective, they may lead to negative side effects such as liver damage, muscle aches and an increased risk of developing type II diabetes. It is best to first attempt to adjust your lifestyle through diet and exercise to control your cholesterol before deciding to rely on a statin. Still need more motivation to make the lifestyle changes mentioned above? Check out the following video for inspiration:




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