By ManagedCareBiz Team
Most heart and blood vessel disease is caused by a buildup of cholesterol and other fatty deposits in the artery walls. The arteries that feed the heart can become clogged and narrow that the blood flow is reduced. If a blood clot forms and blocks the artery, a heart attack can occur. If a blood clot blocks an artery leading to or in the brain, a stroke results.
Because levels of cholesterol can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends all adults have their cholesterol, and other traditional risk factors, checked every four to six years.
Eating healthy foods — those low in saturated and trans fats — is key to improving cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, fat-free and low-fat milk products, poultry without skin and lean meats, fatty fish, unsalted nuts and legumes, and nontropical vegetable oils like canola, corn, olive, or safflower oils are all good to have.
So what are the top foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol?
- Foods high in sodium or salt content
- Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages
- Red meats and fatty meats that aren’t trimmed
- Meats that have been processed with a lot of sodium
- Full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and cheese
- Baked goods made with saturated and transfats like donuts, cakes cookies
- Foods that list the words “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients panel
- Saturated oils like coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil
- Solid fats like shortening, stick margarine and lard
- Fried food
Medicare covers cardiovascular disease screenings that check for cholesterol and other blood fat (lipid) levels. If changing diet and lifestyle are not enough, medication may be required. Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs to help treat a disease or condition found by preventive screening tests, like high cholesterol.
Need more information? Visit heart.org/answersbyheart