Managing your cholesterol is an important part of staying healthy. But sometimes it's hard to know which foods help boost good cholesterol, and which foods to avoid.
Boosting good cholesterol has many health benefits, according to Dr. Daniel Cepin, a cardiologist and medical director of cardiology at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. "It helps with digestion, maintaining cell membranes, and producing hormones like testosterone and estrogen."
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your liver and food. When cholesterol is derived from food, it comes from animal sources such as meat, poultry and dairy.
Cholesterol levels are categorized by two types: low-density lipoproteins (LDL), known as "bad" cholesterol; and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), known as "good" cholesterol.
To fight high cholesterol levels and boost your HDL levels, Dr. Cepin recommends daily exercise and a healthy diet, including the following:
- Choose healthy fats such as low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat
- Avoid trans fats, often found in fried foods, cookies and crackers
- Limit your intake of egg yolks and whole milk products
- Opt for whole grains
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Select foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts and almonds
You should have your cholesterol tested every five years beginning in your 20s. If you have an increased risk of heart disease due to diabetes, or a family history of heart disease, hypertension or other factors, you should pay especially close attention to your cholesterol, as high levels do not usually come with warning signs.
"Speak with your doctor about your personal risk factors for developing high cholesterol and any concerns you might have about your health now and in the future," says Dr. Cepin.
Candy's simple salmon recipe
Candy Cumming, a registered dietitian with the Sharp Weight Management and Health Education program, offers this tasty salmon dish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Rind from one lemon
6 six-ounce salmon fillets
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix soy sauce, brown sugar and lemon rind, and coat salmon fillets with mixture. Place salmon in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Serve with fresh green vegetables and a whole-grain side.
Serves 6. Calories per serving: 390.