Cholesterol Education Month
September is national cholesterol education month, and a good reminder that heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans. Cholesterol is found in fats (lipids) in our blood. We do need some cholesterol to live, having too much of this in our blood can lead to heart disease. Below are lifestyle changes that can help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL), and increase the good cholesterol (HDL).
Be Mindful of the Fats you Eat:
Eat plenty of Omega 3s: Found in fatty fish (salmon) and ground flaxseeds and chia seeds. These can increase your HDL cholesterol.
Avoid Trans fats: These are in common in packaged foods (popcorn, chips, pastries, cookies) and in many margarines and “unnatural” nut butters. Ideally, these would be avoided since they can increase your bad cholesterol.
Balance with saturated fats. These are found in meat, poultry and dairy products. Recent research suggests these are not as bad as once believed to be. It’s still a good idea to balance your diet by choosing lean cuts of meat.
Limit Added Sugar
Excessive carbohydrates in the diet can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol. The first place to start reducing carbs in your diet is with added sugars found in sweetened drinks (sodas, Frappuccino’s, fruit juice), and “junk” food.
Keep sodium to less than 2,400 milligrams/day. The best ways to limit sodium is to dine out less, and check food labels on food that comes in a bag, box or can.
Eat a balanced diet. Eat plenty of vegetables and whole grains to help get enough fiber, which can help lower LDL cholesterol. (Check out the recipe below, full of veggies and lean protein!)
Get Enough Exercise
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise (walking, water aerobics) or 75 minutes each week of vigorous exercise (running, swimming). Exercise is the best way to increase your HDL or good cholesterol, and can help you maintain or achieve a healthy body weight.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
A health professional such as a doctor or dietitian can help determine what a healthy weight means for you. However, it’s recommended that men maintain a waist at or below 40 inches and women at or below 35 inches to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.
Keep Alcohol within Moderation
This means no more than 2 drinks/day for men and only 1 drink/day for women.
Don’t Smoke Tobacco
This is the number one thing you can do to help prevent heart disease!
Greek Chicken Salad
• 2 cups chopped romaine
• ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
• ½ cup chopped cucumber
• ¼ cup crumbled feta
• 3 oz. baked chicken breast, sliced
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Top salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and chicken.
• In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour onto salad.
Nutrition: 328 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 14 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 18 protein, 411 mg sodium.
Elise Campbell, RDN, CSSD
Project Wellness Nutritionist & Personal Trainer
The American Heart Association's Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from