Chicago specialists with a personal touch discuss diet to lower cholesterol and lose weight
Relationships are not built in an appointment. Northwestern Women’s Health Associates is equipped to meet both immediate needs and provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain lifelong health and wellness.
You cannot “be well” with high cholesterol. Too much of this waxy, fat-like substance in your blood is a major risk factor for:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
Risk factors for high cholesterol include obesity, large waist circumference, and the very habits that often lead to bigger middles and excess weight: poor diet and inactivity.
Specifically, a Body Mass Index of at least 30 is associated with high cholesterol. A measure of weight in proportion to height, BMI is a useful indicator of obesity and body fat in most people. Waist circumference is another predictor of high cholesterol and, accordingly, heart-related conditions. A woman’s risk increases if her waist is larger than 35 inches around.
In turn, the benefits of losing weight and whittling your waist transcend the superficial; you just may add years to your life — quality years.
Eating for overall wellness
Found naturally in cells, cholesterol builds the substances that help your body properly digest food and absorb vitamins.
While your body produces sufficient cholesterol, this substance is also found in some foods.
A “poor diet,” which puts you at risk of heart disease and related conditions, contains a lot of high cholesterol foods. The following foods can increase total cholesterol:
- Red meat
- Saturated fats in meat, full-fat dairy, some oils
- Trans fats in margarines, crackers, and pastries
Generally, you should consume no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol each day. The amount of cholesterol can be found on many products’ nutritional labels.
Since high cholesterol in food is associated with certain types of fats, you should also review the fat content for prepared products. Saturated fats should account for no more than 6 percent of calories consumed each day, according to National Institutes of Health recommendations.
Fats overall should account for fewer than 25 to 35 percent of daily caloric intake.
There are plenty of beneficial foods to introduce or reintroduce to your diet. These foods are broadly categorized as:
- Soluble fiber-rich
- Abundant in omega-3 fatty acids
- High in polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Fortified with plant sterols or stanols
Foods containing lots of soluble fiber reduce the overall absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. These foods include:
- Oatmeal, oat bran, and other grains
- Pears, apples, and other fruits
- Lentils and other types of beans
Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with fatty fish. Thought to prevent inflammation, blood clots, and promote normal blood pressure levels, sources of these heart-healthy acids include:
- Albacore tuna
- Ground flaxseed
- Canola oil
Polyunsaturated fats are good substitutes for saturated or trans fats. When consumed in moderation, they can have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. Add some of the following to your meals:
- Other unsalted nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Soybean oil
Fruits and vegetables contain plant stanols or sterols. These compounds work like soluble fiber. Some yogurt drinks, margarines, and other products are now fortified with these beneficial compounds.
It has never been easier to identify and track the amount of calories and fat in foods with apps. Vital information is available with a few swipes on your smartphone, via apps like “My Fitness Pal.”
A diet to lower cholesterol and lose weight should be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle. Stop smoking, exercise, and keep your Well Women Visits in Chicago at the experts with a personal touch, Northwestern Women’s Health Associates
A Diet to Lower Cholesterol and Lose Weight Chicago: Visit Northwestern Women’s Health Associates , your partners in lifelong wellness. Call 312-440-9400.