If more people would only realize how critical food choices are to good health, there would be a substantial reduction in chronic illnesses in the United States. Poor dietary habits are killing us — literally. For instance, high cholesterol levels has become such a common adverse health problem in America that people almost think of it as “normal”. Our bodies need cholesterol. It aids in production of hormones and vitamins that we need to be healthy, such as vitamin D and vitamin K2. Cholesterol is also one of the most important components in bile. Its function there is to help your digestive system properly digest fats. Finally, the cells in your body wouldn’t be able to form their outer membranes without cholesterol.
The term “high cholesterol” generally refers to “bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is “good” cholesterol. It travels to the liver and helps expel excess cholesterol from your body. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” cholesterol. It collects in your arteries, which can lead to many severe health problems, including stroke or heart attack. The most important “take away” from this post is to remember that you can improve your health by making better food choices, particularly if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol.
Stay away from these high-cholesterol foods
Dr. Livingood is a Doctor of Natural Medicine who is also a twice-awarded best-selling author for his books, “Livingood Daily” and “Make Food Simple”. He recommends avoiding the foods included in the following list if you are suffering adverse health effects from high cholesterol levels (meaning, high LDL):
- Any food with a high amount of trans fats
- Processed salty foods
- Processed sugar foods
While this appears, at first, to be a short list, if you consider how many store-bought foods contain these ingredients, the list quickly becomes a lot longer. Just as there is good and bad cholesterol, there are also good versus bad fats, good versus bad sugars and good versus bad salts. A simple way to differentiate between good and bad is to identify processed foods from whole, natural foods. The more processed a food is, the greater amounts of the bad ingredients it is likely to have.
Trans fat foods are usually “junk” food items, such as frozen pizza, the cheesy fries you get at a festival or the cookies, crackers and pastries that line your pantry shelves at home. It’s so frustrating that the food that is bad for us tastes SO good, right? It takes a certain amount of willpower to change your dietary habits and improve your health. Getting rid of trans fat foods is an excellent way to start. Pure salts, such as Himalayan pink salt or sea salt are good for you. However, processed salts (like the average table salt) is unhealthy, especially if you have high cholesterol problems.
The foods that have the greatest concentrations of bad salt come in a can or are sitting behind the glass at your local deli. As for sugar, white, processed sugar is destroying people’s health. There are several types of naturally occurring sugars that your body needs. You get those sugars from fruit and other whole foods. Processed sugar is addictive and has zero value for your health.
When your goal is lower your LDL cholesterol, you’ll be well on your way to success if you eliminate trans fat, salty, sugary foods from your diet.
Foods that help lower high cholesterol
Dr. Livingood often tells his patients to “eat the rainbow,” meaning, colorful fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, berries and other fresh, whole foods provide all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to be healthy. In addition to providing nutrients, such foods are also valuable sources of soluble fiber. Why is that important? It’s important because soluble fiber helps prevent absorption of LDL (the bad cholesterol) in your bloodstream.
Have you ever heard for curcumin? It’s a component in the commonly used spice, turmeric. Turmeric and garlic are full-on SUPER foods, especially when it comes to lowering high cholesterol. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic is one of the most nutritious foods in existence. It also has antimicrobial properties, which can help prevent or overcome infections.
There’s a lot of misinformation regarding consumption of red meat and high cholesterol levels. If you eat “clean” meat, meaning grass-fed, organic beef and other lean options such as chicken or pork, you are not likely to have LDL problems. In fact, our bodies need meat because it provides certain proteins we don’t get in other foods that are necessary to build muscles. Other good food choices to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol include protein-rich beans and various types of seeds and nuts.
If you can eat your way to bad health, you can eat your way to good health, too
It’s so cliche to say “you are what you eat,” but it’s also SO true. Most of us like to snack. The key to good health is to develop better choice habits, especially for snack foods. The next time your snack cravings hit, try one of these ideas instead of food products that will cause your LDL cholesterol levels to soar.
We can develop poor eating habits that wreak havoc on our immune system and overall health and well-being. We can also improve our eating habits, not only to lower high cholesterol but to strengthen our immune systems, gain more energy, healthier skin, hair and more! The easiest way to start eliminating bad eating habits is to clean up your shopping list. If you don’t buy the junk food, it won’t be available for consumption at home. The next time you go grocery shopping, get rid of three unhealthy things you normally buy and replace them with three healthy food items, instead. Keep doing this each week until you are eating a healthier diet!
Do you have ideas to share for healthy snacks? Have you overcome a bad food habit? How did you do it? We want to know!
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to give medical or health advice. The Hot Mess Press is not responsible for any consequences that may arise from a person reading this post or acting on the information it contains.