High cholesterol levels in the blood can cause a buildup of plaque that leads to heart attacks or even strokes. As any good doctor knows, the best way to treat either of these deadly conditions is to prevent them.
When your primary care doctor tells you it is time to lower your cholesterol, the number one thing that can help you is your diet. And, all you need to get started are a few delicious recipes that are quick and easy to make. This article will give you five great-tasting recipes that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
Guidelines for Where Your Cholesterol Levels Should Be
The American Heart Association recommends that you get your cholesterol levels checked once you turn age 20, and every four to six years thereafter. Doctors measure cholesterol levels via a ratio of milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood (mg/dl). These ratios tend to measure things called low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which block your blood vessels and make it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. It should be no surprise, then, that LDLs are more commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.”
If your total cholesterol level is 200-239 mg/dl, and your LDL-cholesterol level is 130-159 mg/dl, your physician will likely recommend making dietary changes, to see if you can lower them on your own. However, many doctors will also prescribe medication to help lower your LDL-cholesterol. That being said, you can save yourself a lot of money on cholesterol meds by simply losing a little weight. Shedding even 10% of your body weight will usually bring your cholesterol levels down to the normal range.
However, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the normal range of cholesterol in children is slightly lower than for adults. Borderline total cholesterol levels for children are 170-199 mg/dl and LDL cholesterol levels of 110-129 mg/dl. Any total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dl or higher and LDL levels of 130 mg/dl warrants a prescription for cholesterol medication.
Symptoms Really Don’t Tell You That You are A Candidate for Heart Attacks
The symptoms of high cholesterol or high oxidized cholesterol are pretty much nonexistent, or ones that could be caused from many other things. They include a lack of drive and endurance, low energy levels, and haggard appearance. This is why it is so important to keep a close eye on cholesterol and oxidized cholesterol levels, and alert your doctor if you notice sudden changes to your energy levels.
Other Problems from Oxidized LDL-Cholesterol
Recently, doctors and researchers have found that oxidized cholesterol is what causes plaque buildup in the arteries, which can eventually lead to heart attacks. Oxidized cholesterol is composed of certain LDL-cholesterol molecules in the body that harden your blood vessels over time. The greater your levels of oxidized cholesterol are, the more likely it is for you to have a heart attack. This explains why some people can have LDL-cholesterol levels that are in the normal range but still have heart attacks. Only oxidized LDL-cholesterol levels build up plaque in the arteries.
Clearing out your arteries of plaque will lower your oxidized LDL cholesterol levels. Various oils and trans fats contain high amounts of oxidized LDL cholesterol; try to avoid eating foods like french fries, pastries, and potato chips to keep your oxidized LDL levels low. Saturated fat, on the other hand, like butter and coconut oil are stable and do not oxidize your LDL cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, statins and other cholesterol-lowering medications reportedly have no effect on oxidized LDL cholesterol levels. Lowering your oxidized cholesterol levels and clearing the plaque in your arteries is the only effective solution for those who have heart disease or who are susceptible to heart attacks. Most experts agree that oxidized LDL-cholesterol is a useful marker for predicting early coronary artery disease and heart attacks.
Oxidized LDL-cholesterol levels can cause other medical issues as well, including…
- Type-2 Diabetes
- Formation of abnormal proteins in the urine often associated with kidney disease
- Sepsis and inflammation in the body
- Preeclampsia in pregnancy
- Obesity and insulin resistance in kids
Recipes for Lowering Your Cholesterol Levels
Healthy Broccoli Cauliflower Rice
- Yield: 4 servings
- Time to Prepare: 45 minutes
- ½ head cauliflower, broken into florets
- ½ lb broccoli, cut into bite-sized portions
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- Celtic salt
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Cooked brown rice, 2 cups
- In a medium-sized pot, add 1 cup brown rice. Add a pinch of salt and cook until done, covered, about 35-40 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, add the oil and onion. Cook over medium high heat for about 8 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and broccoli to the onions. Stir and cook over a medium high heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the parsley and lemon, and then the rice. Cook at medium high heat for 3 minutes.
- Serve with protein or salad.
Roasted Okra with Basil and Oregano
- Yields: 3 servings
- Time to Prepare: 25 minutes
- 1 pound okra, fresh
- 1 teaspoon basil, dried
- 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a ziplock bag, add the okra, oil, and herbs. Shake to thoroughly coat the okra with the oil and spices.
- Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet.
- Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or broil for 10 minutes, turning every 5-8 minutes.
Lentil Pasta and Black Beans
- Yield: 6 servings
- Time to Prepare: 20 minutes
- ½ pound lentil pasta noodles (or spinach pasta)
- 1 16-ounce can black beans, drained
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 1 hot pepper, diced and seeded
- 1 16-ounce can diced organic tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste, preferably organic
- 1 bunch parsley
- Cook the lentil pasta according to directions on box. Strain and cool in a refrigerator overnight in the pot the pasta was cooked in.
- The next day, add the black beans, celery, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and parsley.
- Cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes, until thoroughly heated.
- Serve with a protein entrée.
- Yield: 4 servings
- Time to Prepare: 20 minutes
- Two 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
- 2 small avocados, peeled and pitted
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ½ cup diced green onions
- Juice from one lemon
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a blender, pulse the garbanzos, avocados, lemon, mayo, mustard and garlic for 10 seconds. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the chopped parsley, cayenne pepper, and green onions. Mix with a spoon.
- Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
- Serve on a healthy bread, such as Ezekiel bread, or if you do not eat bread, wrap ½ cup chickpea salad in a lettuce wrap. Enjoy.
Melon Berry Medley
- Yield: 4-5 servings
- Time to prepare: 15 minutes
- ½ cantaloupe, cut into chunks (deseeded)
- ¼ honeydew melon, cut into chunks (deseeded)
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries, chopped
- ⅔ cup walnuts, diced
- ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- Juice of one lemon
- In a large bowl, add the melons and berries.
- Sprinkle lemon juice on top and mix well.
- Add the walnuts and shredded coconut.
- Serve immediately or chill to serve later.
At KentuckyCare, our wellness center offers nutrition services to help you adopt healthy eating habits and a healthy diet. When you schedule an appointment for our nutrition services, you’ll meet with a dietician who will provide you with education and resources for improving your diet. This can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing serious health issues. Call or make an appointment today!
If you are looking for a local family practice in Kentucky, do not wait until your symptoms give way to heart disease. Find a primary care clinic for adults as soon as possible so you can at least check your cholesterol and oxidized cholesterol levels. For more recipes, and to get in touch with an expert team of cardiologists, call KentuckyCare at 866-810-7602 to make your appointment today.