High cholesterol is often overlooked, dismissed or ignored. Unfortunately, left untreated it can lead to strokes, heart attacks and even death. You can successfully reduce your high cholesterol by making a few simple lifestyle changes (diet and exercise).

These changes are especially important during Thanksgiving when you are surrounded by comfort foods. If you are wondering how to keep a check on your cholesterol during the Thanksgiving holiday – you have come to the right place.

What is Cholesterol?

Your lipids (fats) consist of a spongy, waxy substance called cholesterol, which travels through your bloodstream. Although cholesterol often gets a “bad wrap,” there are some benefits associated with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the healthy or “good” cholesterol. For instance, (HDL) cholesterol consists of hormones and cellular membranes that are necessary for essential cellular functions. The problem occurs when you have too much lower-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, in your bloodstream.

This type of cholesterol is considered unhealthy because it can lead to significant health complications like heart attacks, strokes, heart disease and/or death. Although the exact cause of high (LDL) cholesterol varies, genetics, poor diet and a lack of exercise appear to play an important role in its development and progression. Thankfully, there are a variety of things that you can do to keep a check on your cholesterol levels during Thanksgiving.

Listed below are some helpful ways to keep a check on your cholesterol during Thanksgiving:

  • Pay Attention

One of the best things you can do to regulate your cholesterol levels during Thanksgiving is to pay attention to the amount of food you consume during this time. In other words, be conscious of your food portions. It is common to visit several houses during Thanksgiving, which in some cases means eating several times that day.

Many times a variety of fatty, salty and sugary comfort foods (macaroni and cheese, chess pie, etc.) are severed during this holiday, which can cause “bad cholesterol plaques” to form in your bloodstream. When this occurs it raises your (LDL) cholesterol levels. The key to keeping your cholesterol levels in check during the holidays is to monitor how much food you eat. You can eat anything you want at Thanksgiving as long as it is in moderation.

  • Make Wise Food Choices

Another way to keep a check on your (LDL) cholesterol during Thanksgiving is to make wise food choices. In other words, consume healthy, low-fat, low-sugar and low-sodium foods. Some good food choices include: fresh fruits and veggies from a fruit and vegetable tray, salads with low-fat or fat-free salad dressing, green beans, fish (baked salmon or tuna), baked carrots, baked, grilled or roasted, skinless turkey, “naked” pecans, sweet potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie, etc. These healthy foods will help boost your (HDL) cholesterol level and lower your (LDL) cholesterol level.

Stay away from fatty foods (saturated and Trans fats) like fried chicken or turkey, shrimp, whole dairy products like ice cream, cakes, chess pie, macaroni and cheese and other buttery and creamy foods. If possible, stick to foods that contain unsaturated fats (healthy fats) like avocados, almonds, salmon and salad dressing made from olive oil because they will lower your LDL cholesterol and boost your HDL cholesterol. It is important to remember that the fats you consume should not exceed 25% of your daily diet.

The main thing to remember is to choose your foods wisely during Thanksgiving. If you prepare the food you will have some control over what is offered, but if you spend the holiday at someone else’s home, then you will have no choice, but to eat what is provided. This is when it is imperative to make wise food choices. If your Thanksgiving dinner consists of a buffet-style feast then choose meats that are steamed, baked, broiled or grilled.

  • Take Supplements

Although this may sound odd, taking a supplement a few months before Thanksgiving can help you keep a check on your cholesterol. If you want to maintain healthy cholesterol levels during the holidays start taking omega-3 and red rice yeast supplements prior to Thanksgiving. These supplements may help regulate your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels during the holiday.

According to the American Heart Association, taking these supplements can lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is important that you consult a medical professional before using supplements to treat a health condition.

  • Take a Walk or Jog after Thanksgiving Dinner

Lastly, if you want to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, you may want to take a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, one of the quickest ways to reduce your (LDL) cholesterol level is to exercise. Exercising not only promotes enzyme production, it also helps remove (LDL) cholesterol plaques from your bloodstream by transporting them to your liver. The more you exercise – the lower your (LDL) cholesterol level and the higher your (HDL) cholesterol level. For maximum benefits you may want to take a quick jog after your Thanksgiving food has digested (approximately an hour later).

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