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Reducing Cholesterol Doesn’t Mean Living a Life of Deprivation

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The doctor glances at your test results, “Hmmm,” he says with a note of concern. “Your cholesterol levels trouble me.” It’s at that point that thoughts of celery sticks, grapefruit and other equally uninspiring foods taunt your butter-loving palate.

The good news is there is no need to adopt a diet of “rabbit food.” You can still choose delicious foods you want to eat while reducing your cholesterol.

The Good News

Here are just a few substitutions that you can make that won’t rock your world:

Go nuts. Instead of crackers or chips, get your crunch fix from almonds and walnuts. Almonds and walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fat, the “good fat” that can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol), while boosting HDL (good cholesterol.” Plus, clinical studies show that almonds are a great weight loss aid, filling you up quickly, so you feel satisfied and eat less.

Give turkey a try. Ground turkey contains half the saturated fat of 85 percent lean ground beef and is an easy substitution i most recipes. When you add your favorite seasonings, you won’t be able to tell that the marinara, meatloaf or chili is made with turkey.

There’s something fishy going on! While turkey and children are good low-cholesterol substitutions for beef, your best bet is fish. Not only is seafood low in fat, it contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice a week.

Get creative with Condiments. One of the biggest culprits is a high-cholesterol diet is condiments. Salad dressings, mayonnaise and dips can have more cholesterol and fat in two tablespoons than the entire rest of your meal. When making dip or dressing, use plain yogurt instead of sour cream. make sandwich spreads from avocado or tofu. Try vinegar and lemon juice on salads, or add in flavorful fruits and vegetable and a nice piece of grilled salmon and forgo dressing altogether.

Minimize your Loss with Applesauce. Applesauce can be substituted for oil in almost any baking recipe, not only eliminating the fat and cholesterol in the oil but also adding the fiber and nutrients of the applesauce to your cookies, cakes and muffins. Substitute the amount of oil called for in the recipe with the same measured amount of applesauce. Don’t like applesauce? Try mashed bananas or zucchini.

Making these substitutions does not give you a pass to eat all the cheese, ice cream and eggs you want. To get a handle on high cholesterol, you still have to eat a diet low in fat, watch your weight and get more exercise. But with just a little effort, you can learn to eat foods that will better help you to control your health without sacrificing taste.

For information and to find a physician in the mountains who can help with cholesterol testing, contact Mountains Community Hospital at (909) 336-3651. The hospital is located at 29191 Hospital Road in Lake Arrowhead.


Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Doodle on napkin about improving cholesterol

Mountains Community Hospital provides tips about how to impact your cholesterol levels.

What you eat will affect your health in many ways…including levels of good and bad cholesterol. Fortunately, there are many ways that people with abnormal levels can be corrected, including eating foods like oatmeal, certain nuts, some varieties of cold water fish and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Mountains Community Hospital urges mountain residents to pay attention to their diets and to incorporate other lifestyle changes that may be necessary in order to improve cholesterol levels and reduce health risks.

Mountains Community Hospital cares about your overall health. And since studies prove that cholesterol levels and overall heart health are important parts of living a long, satisfying life, hospital physicians stress that the importance of regular health screening tests such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The hospital laboratory staff performs cholesterol testing, known as a lipid panel, with a physician’s referral. No appointment is necessary. And patients are seen on a “first come, first served” basis—usually in and out in just a short time.When it comes to triglycerides, the American Heart Association and Mountains Community Hospital recommend a level of 100 mg/di or lower. Are your triglycerides high? Should you take steps to improve your blood work? Working in cooperation with your physician, there are many ways people to reduce “bad cholesterol level,” increase “good cholesterol” and reduce triglyceride level.

The Heart Association encourages patients to take steps on their own or with their physician’s assistance before resorting to a regimen of cholesterol-lowering medications, commonly known as Statins. The Association believes medications should only be used as a “last ditch effort.”  In the United States, a triglyceride level below 150mg is desirable and a level of 150mg is considered borderline high. A level of 200-400 mg is considered high and 500 mg and above is considered very high.

Mountains Community Hospital physicians encourage everyone to help lower their “bad LDL cholesterol” by adopting lifestyle changes. Exercise, weight loss, smoking cessation and healthy eating habits are all part of a heart-healthy program. Some of the best “cholesterol lowering” foods include walnuts, almonds and other nuts. But be careful to eat just a handful at a time since nuts are high in fat. Oatmeal, oat bran, kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes also help reduce cholesterol because they are high in fiber. Several types of cold-water fish, eaten twice a week, can also help. Look for Salmon, Halibut, and Albacore tuna, Sardines, Herring, Lake Trout and Mackerel. Eating foods high in fiber helps reduce “bad cholesterol.”

High LDL is a major problem for millions of Americans, and particularly for heart patients. The reason high levels pose such a threat is because they can build up inside the body’s artery walls and lead to artery blockages which can lead to heart attacks. “HDL” l is known as “good cholesterol” because it keeps arteries from clogging.

If you aren’t sure what your numbers are, call an MCH-affiliated physician today and ask for baseline blood work, because, at Mountains Community Hospital, we care about your health.