Cholesterol: Eat Healthy to Protect Your Arteries
One in every four Canadians has high blood cholesterol. If you are one of them, in addition to taking medication, where prescribed, you can also help lower cholesterol levels by improving your diet.
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring fat that your body needs, in small amounts, to function properly. Most of the cholesterol required by your body is made in the liver, while the rest comes from your diet.
When blood cholesterol levels are too high, plaque can form on the walls of the blood vessels, eventually blocking the flow of blood and leading to serious complications. For example, if a blockage occurs in the heart vessels, it can cause a heart attack; if it occurs in the brain, it can result in a stroke.
If your blood cholesterol levels are too high, your doctor will most likely prescribe a cholesterol-lowering treatment. In addition to medication, he or she will also recommend you make changes to your diet.
Even though most of the cholesterol in your body is produced by the liver, it is a good idea to be careful about what you eat. For example, try to reduce your consumption of trans and saturated fats, as they can lead to increased levels of blood cholesterol.
Foods to consume in moderation or avoid altogether:
- Fatty dairy products (milk and yogurt > 2%, cheese, butter, cream)
- Fatty meats (with visible fat, poultry skin)
- Deli meats, bacon, sausages, etc.
- Pastries, danishes, croissants, etc.
- Deep-fried foods, chips, crackers
- Coconut and palm oil
- Hard margarine, vegetable shortening
Did you know that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interact with certain cholesterol medications? If yours is one such medication, be sure to follow your pharmacist’s instructions. If you’re not sure, ask!
If your cholesterol is too high, you can also make some lifestyle changes. Not only will they help lower your cholesterol levels, they’re also a good way to prevent or control cardiovascular diseases and help you reach or maintain a healthy weight:
- Quit smoking
- Get regular physical exercise
- Learn to manage stress
- Consume alcohol in moderation only
Your pharmacist is an important ally when it comes to your health. If you have high cholesterol, your pharmacist will guide you throughout your treatment and advise you on healthy dietary choices.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.