Apples, cinnamon and whole oats. If you're having oatmeal, look for the phrase "100 percent rolled oats" on the label.

Yes! Why? Because foods such as oatmeal, whole-grains and plant-based diets increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol.

The body needs cholesterol to function normally and can make all it needs. But when too much cholesterol builds up in the blood, it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

There are two types of cholesterol – the good and the bad:

—    HDL (high-density lipids) are larger particles of “good” cholesterol

—    LDL (low-density lipids) are small particles of “bad” cholesterol

To remember the difference, think “Make higher the high-density HDL cholesterol and lower the low-density LDL cholesterol.”

LDL (BAD) Cholesterol – Lower is better

·        Optimal: less than 100

·        Near/above optimal: 100 to 129

·        High: Any measurement above 130

HDL (GOOD) Cholesterol – Higher is better 

·        Optimal: greater than 60

·        Too low: less than 40

It’s about fat

The most important element — and the most dangerous — is fat. “Bad” saturated fat and trans fats raise dangerous LDL cholesterol. “Good” unsaturated fat helps raise beneficial HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol.

Trans fats are double trouble because they raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol.

Only foods that originate from animals contain dietary cholesterol.

Here is a list of foods to avoid or only eat on occasion:

·        Anything fried

·        Foods with partially hydrogenated and/or hydrogenated oil.

·        Red meat contains saturated fats. Wild game is lower in saturated fats than store-bought meat. Trim off visible fat and remove the skin from poultry.

·        Full-fat dairy products are loaded with saturated fats.

Eat these foods to raise the good and lower the bad:

·        Legumes (beans, peas and lentils)

·        Avocados

·        Nuts

·        Fatty fish

·        Oats and barley

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·        Fruit and berries

·        Garlic

·        Vegetables

·        Dark leafy greens

·        Dark chocolate and cocoa

·        Tea

·        Fiber powders such as Metamucil

Other lifestyle behaviors include:

·        Increase physical activity and exercise most days of the week

·        Lose 10-percent body weight

·        Stop using tobacco

·        Drink alcohol in moderation

If your healthcare provider recommends medication, take it as prescribed and continue lifestyle changes, which can help keep medication doses low.

About Dr. Hershey: L. George Hershey, D.O., is the medical director and a family practice physician at NACA’s Family Health Center. He has served as the medical director and team physician for student-athletes at NAU since 1971.

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Is there a health topic you would like to know more about? Contact Starla S. Collins, health writer, life & success coach and public relations expert, at StarlaSCollins@gmail.com.


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