By now it’s safe to assume that we all know that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
After all, just turn on your TV and within the hour you’ll see ads for Lipitor and Crestor (to name a few). But if you’re like me you might be thinking about alternatives to taking prescription medication.
Is it really possible to lower your cholesterol (or keep it in check) by making adjustments to your diet and lifestyle?
How to lower your cholesterol without medication
According to Dr. Jack Hauser, a cardiologist in Connecticut, the answer is yes.
To stay away from saturated fats.
Yes, changing your diet really can, and does, make a big difference. In fact, Dr. Hauser recently stated that:
“Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Many foods high in saturated fats are also high in cholesterol, and that’s going to raise your numbers even higher.”
So how can you avoid or limit your intake of saturated fats in your diet?
Well, it turns out that many saturated fats naturally occur in many foods, such as meat and dairy products.
- beef, lamb, or pork
- chicken or duck cooked with their skin
- lard, cream and butter
- cheese and dairy products made from whole 2% milk
Additionally, these foods also contain dietary cholesterol.
Dietary limits for saturated fats
You may not know that the American Heart Association recommends limiting the daily amount of saturated fats to less than 7% of your total calories.
For the typical 2,000 calories per day diet that comes out to roughly 16 grams of saturated fats, max.
So what foods should you keep an eye on?
Well, it should come as no surprise that fried foods and many baked goods contain high level of saturated fats. After all, many desserts are made with oil, dairy products (milk, cream, butter, cheese) and eggs.
And we already talked about limiting your daily intake of dairy and meat. But did you know that some plant foods also contain saturated fats as well (though not cholesterol).
This list includes:
- palm oil
- palm kernel oil
- coconut oil
as well as food fried with these oils (like movie theater popcorn).
By limiting your intake of the wrong kinds of foods, and adding to your diet some (or all) of heart-healthy “super foods,” you can lower your cholesterol without taking medication.
But don’t take my word for it.
If the AMA and a cardiologist with more than 30 years experience says you can reduce your cholesterol levels by avoiding saturated fats, then perhaps we should all pay attention and start making those changes to our diet today.
After all, prevention really is the best medicine.