High cholesterol can cause serious health issues including heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low density-lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is bad cholesterol that builds up in your arteries while HDL is good cholesterol that protects against heart disease. Ideally, you want to have low LDL levels and high HDL levels. Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of Americans. Yhis can be changed by medications or by making a few lifestyle changes. By opting to make the lifestyle changes you are not only lowering cholesterol, but also benefiting your health in numerous ways.
Diet and High Cholesterol
Diet plays the biggest role in one’s health. By making healthy decisions in the foods that you consume, you provide your body with the proper nutrients it needs and your cholesterol will be lower.
Foods to include in your diet:
- Healthy Fats: Many fats provide nutrients and improve health, these are unsaturated fats. Foods such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts are high in healthy fats.
- Fiber: Soluble fiber reduces the total and LDL cholesterol. These fibers can be found in beans, whole grains (oatmeal and barley), and fruits (bananas, apples, and berries).
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels, reduces clogs in blood vessels, and the risk of abnormal heart rhythm. Fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods to Avoid:
- Red Meat: Red meat increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease because it is high in heme iron and saturated fats. This means eating foods such as steak, burgers, and other foods containing beef, pork, and lamb in moderation.
- Trans Fats: Trans fat lowers HDL cholesterol and raises LDL cholesterol. These fats can be found in baked goods (cakes, cookies, biscuits, and donuts), margarine, and friend foods.
Exercise and High Cholesterol
Physical activity is important for anyone to stay healthy, but it greatly benefits those with high cholesterol. Exercise can increase HDL levels and helps with weight loss. One should perform 40 minutes of moderate physical activity at least four times a week. Moderate-intensity exercises include: swimming, brisk walking, and biking.
Tips to Successfully Exercise:
- Create Goals: The best way to introduce something new into your life is to create goals. These give you something to work towards. Once you reach your first milestone, set another. Make sure they are realistic – i.e. your cholesterol will not be perfect after exercising once, it takes time.
- Make a Plan: Designing a workout plan will help you fit your goals into your exercise routine. This will also make you create a schedule that you have to follow.
- Find a Partner: Everything is more fun with a partner. Most importantly, they keep you accountable. If you cannot find one, there are many groups that you can join as well.
These lifestyle changes can be greatly beneficial to not only those with high cholesterol, but anyone looking to improve their health. If you are worried about your cholesterol, visit your doctor to get a cholesterol test and talk to them about making some changes.