How Eating Your Favorite Foods Can Help Reduce Your Cholesterol

Shrimp

Shrimp is surprisingly good for you.
(Photo courtesy Phu Thinh Co, Flickr)

I wasn’t too thrilled when the doctor told me I need to keep an eye on my cholesterol levels. Before he could say more, I suddenly had visions of munching on nothing but rabbit food, taking expensive medications, and nixing all the yummy eats I love. Thankfully, my premonition was somewhat off the mark, and working on lowering my numbers hasn’t been nearly as tough as I had previously thought. If you’re in the same boat with me, then check out some of my favorite tips on how to bring down those digits. 

Sure, even Southern cooking queen Paula Deen reduced her butter and carbohydrate intake when she learned that she had type two diabetes, according to CBS. But that doesn’t mean that she had to cut those items out of her diet altogether in order to shed weight and improve her lifestyle.

In a Time Magazine article titled “Ending the War on Fat,” experts say that we have vilified the wrong foods all these years. Saturated fats, like butter and those found in steak, only affect our health nominally. It is the refined carbohydrates like those found in “wheat” bread, low-fat crackers and pasta that really are the culprits here. The key is moderation. If we’re going to have butter, put it on vegetables, not bread. Red meat intake should be kept to about 12 ounces a week.

Boost your daily fiber intake to the recommended 25 to 35 grams per day by adding beans, fruits, vegetables and other foods, suggests Health. Fiber rich foods don’t have many empty calories and binds themselves to cholesterol to help reduce LDL levels. Other great sources of fiber include whole grains like oatmeal, farro, quinoa, barley, bulgur and millet. Not sure how to prepare these items? Martha Stewart has some amazing recipes for how to add these dishes to your diet.

As far as protein sources go, you do well to increase your intake of fish like salmon and shellfish. Wait, what? You’ve probably heard that shrimp is a big no-no. But in the recent Weight Watchers article, “Forbidden Foods… No More,” Lara Rosenbaum states that although shellfish is high in cholesterol, it has very little saturated fat and actually provides a whopping 19 grams of protein per three ounces of shrimp.

Finally, eggs are no longer bad for you. In fact, they’re downright great for your overall health. And according to WebMD, we no longer have to just eat the whites. Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD says we should ditch the egg substitutes and feel free to have an egg a day. After all, the choline in eggs helps with brain development and memory, while nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin may help prevent age-related macular degeneration and blindness.

Yes, high cholesterol no longer has to sentence you to a life full of ho-hum dinners and boring breakfasts. Eat the foods you want, within reason and in moderation, and you won’t have to change all that much. Portion control is the key. Still remember to exercise for 30 minutes daily and be sure to talk to your doctor. Sometimes diet and exercise simply aren’t enough, but taking these steps is definitely a practical, and simple, way to begin. Good health to you!

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About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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