Cholesterol

plays an important role in hormone, vitamin D, and bile production which is necessary for proper digestion and cell membrane support. It is comprised of two main elements: LDL, or "lousy cholesterol"; and HDL, or "healthy cholesterol." LDL is considered "lousy" because it tends to stick to artery walls and turn into arterial plaque. On the other hand, HDL is "healthy" because it takes cholesterol in the blood back to the liver. Over time, plaque can build up and the space where blood flows will decrease, especially in the smallest arteries in the brain and around the heart. Another cause of plaque build up is chronic inflammation, which causes the body to "patch" damaged arteries with cholesterol. Cholesterol management includes lowering LDL and increasing HDL, while also addressing systemic inflammation. The cholesterol ratio reflects the risk of cardiovascular events.

Increase soluble fiber such as that found in oats, barley, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.

Increase omega-3 fat intake found in salmon, sardines, flax, or chia seeds.

Include foods high in niacin (B3), a vitamin that, in high doses, has been found to increase HDL production. Food sources include fish, avocado, mushrooms, green peas, and sunflower seeds.

Limit saturated fat intake, found in meat and diary products.

Eliminate artificial trans fats. Avoid foods that contain "partially hydrogenated oils" listed as an ingredient on the label.