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.
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:
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.
1. Almonds and apple slices.
2. Pico de Gallo (brown rice, egg whites scrambled, chopped pepper and other veggies).
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.
1. Marinara based scallops and pasta. Scallop Pasta Recipe
2. BBQ pulled chicken sandwich with side salad. BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe
1. Raspberries and sliced almonds.
2. Steamed edamame.
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.
|Fruit and Yogurt Parfait||5 mg|
|Chicken McGrill Sandwich (no cheese, no mayo)||28 mg|
|Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad (oil based dressing)||22 mg|
|Quaker Oatmeal||5 mg|
|Veggie Burger (no cheese, no mayo)||5 mg|
|Flame Grilled Chicken Burger (no cheese, no mayo)||5 mg|
|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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