The Nutritarian

Healthy Eating Insight

Cholesterol: What is keeping your levels elevated? Could you be your own worst enemy?

Written By: The Nutritarian - Oct• 31•12

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Today more than ever, Americans are realizing that preventative health care is a smart habit and are taking initiative to eat better, exercise more regularly, and keep current on physician check-ins.

When it comes to health, it is vital to rise above feelings of invincibility or fear. These negative emotions hinder us from taking proper care, and instead create an overwhelming sense of paralysis. Thoughts like, “I can ignore this pain, it will eventually go away” or “they’ve got a pill for that…” Let us move away from these degenerative thoughts that are holding us back.

Carpe Diem! Seize the day! It’s time to take charge of your own health by understanding cholesterol – the good, the bad, and what it means to overall health.  Get ready to find out how easy it is to incorporate small, manageable changes into your daily life to put you on track for preventing heart disease.


LDL vs. HDL: What is Bad and What is Good?

LDL is the lousy form of cholesterol. It circulates in the blood when there are excess amounts of fat and cholesterol.  This can form thick hard deposits that narrow arteries and cause clot formation, not allowing for proper blood flow through the body, which can eventually result in heart attack or stroke.

HDL is the healthy cholesterol that can protect against heart attack. It removes excess cholesterol from arteries, carrying it back to the liver where it is passed out of the system.

HDL numbers lower than 40 mg for men and 50mg for women are considered risk factors for coronary artery disease. Desirable HDL numbers are 60 mg or more, which can help to lower the risk of heart disease. Optimal LDL numbers should be under 100 mg.

Total Cholesterol Level

Less than 200 Desirable
200-239 Borderline high
240 and above High

LDL Cholesterol Level

Less than 100 Optimal
100-129 Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 Borderline high
160-189 High
190 and above Very high

Source: The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). Your Cholesterol Goal, 2012


To put things in perspective, below is a chart of high, moderate and low cholesterol foods.



Butter 250
Oysters 206
Lobster 200
Crabmeat 127
Shrimp 125
Cream Cheese 110



Yellow Cheese 108
Whipped Cream 86
Beef 72
Pork, Fish 70
Chicken 64
Ice Cream 47



Cottage Cheese 15
Skim milk 4
Egg whites 0.3
Fruits, nuts, veggies, & grains 0
Soy, almond, or rice milk 0

The data is always a bit heavy, but the point is, if your numbers aren’t where you or your doctor would like them, you can make your food work for your body! I’ve listed some smart, health-conscious choices, including readily available products and recipes to help you immediately practice making a difference in your cholesterol through the way you eat.The acceptable daily-recommended intake, according to the USDA, is 300 mg of cholesterol.  A 100g serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards, or the palm of your hand.  Eat three large shrimp and you’ve consumed more than a third of the recommended limit.  This example also assumes you were eating cocktail shrimp that weren’t sautéed in butter.  According to research from a Cholesterol Content article, people with higher cardiovascular disease risk should keep their intake to less than 200 mg a day.

The Mayo Clinic writes about the top 5 foods to lower cholesterol numbers as being; fish, nuts, oatmeal, olive oil* (especially EVO), and foods with plant sterols or stanols.  According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, credible institutions, nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors, we need to focus much more on how we eat.  Choosing more Super Foods in our daily diets can work wonders while alleviating feelings of deprivation.

8 Super Foods to Incorporate Daily: 

  • Oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Barley
  • Okra

All rich in soluble fiber, which helps your body eliminate cholesterol.

  • Soy

Reduces liver’s tendency to produce cholesterol.

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds

Naturally occurring sterols in nuts reduce cholesterol.

  • Tomatoes

High in the “red” antioxidant Lycopene linked to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.

My Favorite Fast Tomato, After the Vine

Carmelina ‘e..San Marzano® Italian Tomatoes are one of the cleanest and easiest to cook with products I’ve found for fast cooking.  They taste great plain, like tomatoes straight off the vine, and are less acidic than any other plum variety I’ve tried.  I love making sauces, stews and soups.  Unlike most every other tomato brand I’ve inspected at the grocery, Carmelina ‘e…San Marzano® doesn’t add any preservatives (citric acid, calcium chloride, salt, or sugars).  Check out the ingredients list, it’s straight up, all-natural tomatoes, and that is all.

Don’t Wait!

So what are you waiting for? According to a study published by The American Journal of Nutrition, patients who avoided animal products and added these Super foods daily had a 30 percent drop in LDL in just four weeks.  That’s no time at all! Come on, try it – we only have wellness to gain!

Super foods, moderate carbohydrate intake, and regular exercise (which heightens HDL, healthy cholesterol), leaves no room for high cholesterol.  You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take care by avoiding illness and disease.  Making good food choices now will allow for avoidance of costly drugs, medical procedures, or worries for your family later on down the road.

Source: Neal D. Barnard, MD, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and author of 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve your Health.  From: Vegetarian Times, Oct. 2012.

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