All About Cholesterol: 3 Ways to Lower the Bad and Increase the Good

All About Cholesterol: 3 Ways to Lower the Bad and Increase the Good

Elevated cholesterol levels are a concern for everyone, however, when an individual has diabetes, the need to address this topic is paramount. 

First of all, what is cholesterol and why should we be concerned? 

  • It is naturally produced in the liver and is created from the food you eat.
  • The body uses cholesterol to make hormones like Vitamin D and bile.
  • Excessive cholesterol in the blood substantially increases risk of heart attack. 

Because the blood is a watery substance and cholesterol is a waxy/oily substance, the two do not mix well! This is where the good and bad cholesterol come into play. 

LDL cholesterol stands for Low Density Lipoprotein and is known as the “BAD” cholesterol, because it's the cholesterol you're hanging onto. You want this number below 100. 

HDL cholesterol stands for High Density Lipoprotein and is known as the “GOOD” cholesterol because it's the cholesterol you're getting rid of; it's carried away from your blood vessels and out of your body. You want this number to be HIGH. At least 40 is okay. 50 is better and greater than 60 is optimal. 

When the blood vessels have a build-up of cholesterol in them, this is called atherosclerosis, or heart disease. When a piece of a plaque chips off and blocks a vessel of the heart, a heart attack occurs. When an eruption of this type happens, it typically looks like an eruption of a volcano on the wall of a blood vessel. 

Saturated fats are the main culprits that contribute to increased cholesterol levels, usually in the form of animal fats. This would be the fat, whether visible or not, in meat and dairy and the solid fats of cooking oils, like lard. The cholesterol in animal foods like the yellow egg yolk also contribute to increased cholesterol. Trans fats from stick margarine, crackers, certain oils and the foods cooked in them also contribute to elevated cholesterol and are now banned in many restaurants.   

There are, however, specific foods that help decrease cholesterol, including oat and psyllium fibers, fruits and vegetables, and plant sterol and stanol fibers that you can find added in concentrated amounts to some oils, juices, etc. 

So, what can you do if you've already got high cholesterol? 

1. Decrease total daily cholesterol Intake to less than 200mg. This is pretty straightforward. Reading the labels is the only way you will know. Even an egg carton lid tells you how much cholesterol you are getting in an egg!

2. Lose 10 pounds if you are overweight. Easier said than done, right? Well, with just an hour of vigorous walking everyday, you can lose up to a pound per week. Keep it up, and you'll save your heart, too!

3. Add 5-10 grams of soluble fiber to your diet each day. Oatmeal, lentils, or oat cereal will help increase this number. Read food labels and add these soluble fiber-rich foods to your meals daily!

NutriBlasting daily helps increase the number of good-for-you foods your body ingests, which can play a much bigger role in your health than you ever thought possible! Keep this in mind next mealtime!

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

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