Do You Know Nutrition: Controlling cholesterol

By Phylis Canion
July 15, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.

I have had severe reactions to my cholesterol medication, and my doctor has suggested I change my diet. What do I change in my diet to keep my cholesterol levels in a healthy range?

According to Harvard Health Publications, cholesterol is essential to body functions and performs three main functions: It helps make the outer coating of cells, it makes up the bile acids that work to digest food in the intestine, and it allows the body to make Vitamin D and hormones, like estrogen in women and testosterone in men. If you held cholesterol in your hand, you would see a waxy substance that resembles the very fine scrapings of a whitish-yellow candle.

That is why cholesterol is known as a fat or lipid. While it is important to understand which foods can help lower cholesterol, it is better to understand which foods need to be avoided to prevent elevated cholesterol levels. Generally speaking, you should not consume more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. In order to maintain that, it is best to limit or eliminate foods high in cholesterol; they are mainly found in all animals and animal products, such as meat, poultry and milk products.

In addition, processed and prepared foods, although convenient, are very high in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat, like in cookies, pastries, margarines and muffins - just to name a few. Now for the best foods to consume to help lower cholesterol: oatmeal (not in a plastic container), oat bran and high-fiber foods like beans, fish, omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts and pistachio nuts.

Olive oil is exceptional, and two tablespoons daily in place of other fats can be most beneficial to the body.

If you are a smoker, it's best to stop. Not just for the smoke inhalation but also the 702 toxins now in one cigarette.

Now, with all that said, cardiology researchers are now questioning whether saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Just think, cholesterol and saturated fats have been consumed for hundreds of thousands of years. Is the real culprit carbohydrates, such as sugars and flours, that have been eaten in significant quantities for only about 100 years? Food for thought.

Thought for the week: If it wasn't hard, then everyone would do it.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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