Cholesterol is a hot topic, with people frequently saying they have 'high' cholesterol, or are looking for foods and medication to 'lower' their cholesterol. In fact, statin drugs, which are used to lower a person's cholesterol level, are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world. That said, simply referring to cholesterol as 'good' or 'bad' does not actually paint a complete picture. This is because cholesterol is actually made up of three different parts.

Understanding Cholesterol:

Cholesterol is made up of HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), and triglycerides. HDL is classed as 'good', but the other two are classed as 'bad'. When people are said to have high cholesterol, what is meant is that they have high levels of LDL, and usually also high levels of triglycerides. The only one that should be high is HDL, which is the good kind of cholesterol.

The Bad Cholesterol – LDL:

If you don't watch your cholesterol levels, the bad cholesterol – LDL, will literally run rampant in your body. The less you focus on healthy eating, the worse your cholesterol levels will get. We eat food that are full of trans and saturated fats, and these have the effect of raising our LDL level. A high LDL level leads to an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. By changing your diet and opting for healthier choices, you can literally save your life.

If you haven't had a blood test over the past few years, you may not even realize your cholesterol is high. You may also feel that you lead a pretty healthy lifestyle and are therefore not at risk of becoming a victim of the bad cholesterol – LDL. In reality, however, the vast majority of people have high cholesterol, simply because it is so difficult nowadays to eat truly healthy food. Anything processed or ready made tends to have trans and saturated fats in it.

Cholesterol And Dieting:

Luckily, you can consciously choose to add natural, healthy foods to your diet to increase your HDL level. In so doing, your body will be better able to flush out the LDL from your bloodstream, leaving you healthier overall.

To do that, some of the foods you should add to your diet, include:

– Oatbran and oatmeal, which is full of soluble fibers that stop your intestines from absorbing as much cholesterol. Prunes, barley, kidney beans, pears, and apples are also very good sources of fiber.

– Almonds and walnuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. These keep your blood vessels healthy. However, they are also high in fat, so eat them in moderation.

– Fish that contains a lot of omega 3 is also really good. This can also help you lower your blood pressure. Good choices include lake trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, salmon, and tuna.

– Olive oil is full of important antioxidants that can fight LDL without negatively affecting HDL. You should have two tablespoons of olive oil in your diet per day.

– Plant sterols, which stop cholesterol from getting absorbed. Plant sterols are found in yogurt, margarine, vegetables, fruits, and orange juice.

By incorporating the above in your diet, and continuing to focus on exercising regularly and controlling your portions, you should be able to fight high cholesterol.