When you are first diagnosed with high cholesterol, there can be a
lot of worry, and a lot of jargon. If you are lucky, your doctor
gave you a handout so you can do some onl…ine exploration. But
often, doctors bandy about terms like HDL, LDL and Triglycerides
and diseases like Atherosclerosis very quickly, and it can be
overwhelming. The following are online, reliable resources and
reference tools so you can take your time and learn about
cholesterol. Each section contains references to detailed yet
understandable information about topics like cholesterol in
general, health risk factors, interpreting cholesterol test
results, nutrition guidelines, and a list of top 5 foods that can
help lower cholesterol.
The American Heart Association has a very good cholesterol
overview, written in "regular-person" speak. It explains that
cholesterol in and of itself is not bad and is produced both by our
bodies and from the foods we eat. Scrolling through this article,
you will find an explanation of "good" and "bad" cholesterol, and
there is even an animation if you really want to get a visual of
what cholesterol is and how it works in your body.
The Mayo Clinic is another excellent online source for reliable,
easy-to-understand cholesterol information. If your doctor spoke
with you about risk factors, you may want to review this list
detailing seven conditions which, when combined with high
cholesterol, elevate heart disease risk. You may already know that
obesity, poor diet and a family history of heart disease elevate
heart disease risk, but did you know that lack of exercise and
obesity are also risk factors?
Interpreting Test Results
If your doctor prescribed a fasting blood test, you probably had a
"lipid panel" or "lipid profile" cholesterol test. You likely know
the "total cholesterol" goal is at or under that "magic 200"
figure, but what about those HDL and LDL numbers, and
triglycerides? What are the target levels for each of those? The
Mayo Clinic site offers an excellent reference page that explains
the targets for each key cholesterol measure.
Nutrition - Cholesterol Guidelines
A low-fat diet is something your doctor likely mentioned as part of
a cholesterol-lowering lifestyle change, but what does that mean,
exactly? What is the difference between total fat, trans fat and
all those other fats? How much dietary fat is OK, anyway? And what
about protein, carbohydrates and dietary cholesterol -- how do
these factor in, and what levels should one target as part of a
cholesterol-watching diet? The Cleveland Clinic's
Nutrition-Cholesterol Guidelines article is a terrific resource
that both explains each of these nutritional elements and gives a
target for daily consumption. And there's a handy chart that
summarizes it all in one place.
Top 5 Foods To Lower Cholesterol
Overall nutritional guidelines are important, but can be hard to
put into practice. If the nutrition chart works for you, great. But
if that's too much information, check out the Mayo Clinic's list of
Top 5 Foods that can help lower cholesterol. Along with exercise
and other healthy habits, the Mayo Clinic list includes: 1)
high-fiber foods like oatmeal and oat bran, 2) fish or other foods
rich in omega-3 fatty acids, 3) nuts, like almonds and walnuts, 4)
olive oil, and 5) foods or supplements containing plant sterols.
More on this list -- including examples of foods in each of these 5
categories -- can be found on the Mayo Clinic site.
Ask your doctor for a copy of your cholesterol blood tests, and
keep them in a folder or online file. You'll want to keep track of
your own cholesterol results as it's likely you'll have a
cholesterol test every six months or at least annually. The numbers
are important -- and surprisingly easy to forget.
There's a lot of uncertainty and jargon to cope with when you are
diagnosed with high cholesterol. These medically reliable, online
resources can provide key information about high cholesterol, and
provide the tools and facts you need to plan a course of action
with your doctor. (MORE)