Changing your lifestyle can help you to reduce or even eliminate your cholesterol and help you to stay off cholesterol medication. Some individuals can not get rid of their cholesterol regardless of what they do because of family history and age but can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Changing your lifestyle will be no easy task so take it one step at a time to feel the amazing benefits of feeling healthy.
Lower Your Cholesterol by Changing Your Lifestyle
- Eat healthily – The unhealthiest eater can start eating healthy anytime to help lower their cholesterol and improve his/her health.
DO choose healthy fats by choosing leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy items and monounsaturated fats which can are found in olive oils and canola oils.
DO NOT consume more than 7% of our daily calories from saturated fats. Saturated fat is mostly found in red meat, and dairy products will reduce your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which is the bad cholesterol.
DO NOT eat food with trans fat. Eliminate trans fats from your daily food intake because the smallest amount of trans fat will add up resulting in your bad cholesterol level to increase and lower your good cholesterol. Trans fat increases your risk of a heart attack so, please read the ingredient list and avoid trans fat and food with partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fat is most commonly found in fried foods and commercial product including cookies and treats.
The United States does not mandate companies to label their food items that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving so labels with the words “trans fat-free” might contain trans fat.
DO eat food with omega-3 fatty acids because it does not affect LDL cholesterol and has heart benefits by helping to increase the good cholesterol known as HDL, high-density lipoprotein. It also contributes to reducing your triglycerides which are a type of fat in your blood, and the omega-3 fatty acids also help to reduce your blood pressure.
A few types of fish that contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, lake trout, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, and herring.
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A few other fish that contain a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids are halibut, river trout, catfish, cod, snapper, and tuna packed in water.
Vegans and those who do not like fish can eat walnuts, flax seeds, and almonds which all contain omega-3 fatty acids.
DO eat soluble fiber which helps to lower your LDL levels and has heart benefits. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is easily digested while insoluble fiber passes through the digestive system close to its original form
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Some soluble fibers are oats products, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), fruits, vegetables (especially oranges, apples and carrots) and barley.
Some insoluble fibers are greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mesclun, collards, arugula, watercress, etc.), Whole (snow, snap, pea pods) peas, green beans, kernel corn, bell peppers, eggplant, celery, etc.
- Exercise regularly and increase your physical activity when the exercise becomes easy for you. Exercise can help to decrease your bad cholesterol and help raise your good cholesterol (HDL), high-density lipoprotein. It is recommended for individuals to do about 30 minutes of exercise a day with your doctor’s approval. You can divide your 30-minute workout into 10-minute intervals throughout the day.
Please refrain from exercises that you cannot keep up with or do consistently so consider things that you stay true too. A few options are:
- Take a brisk walk during your lunch break, early morning or whenever you have time.
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- Ride your bike to work or walk to work if you do not work far from home.
- Swim a few laps.
- Play your favorite sport with a team or your family/kids.
- Ask a friend or neighbor to join you every day to exercise or participate in a group. Having someone to exercise with will help to motivate you and keep you from slacking off.
- Take the stairs instead of using the elevator.
- Do sit-ups or minor exercises while watching T.V.
- Use a pedal exercise bike while watching T.V or while sitting at your desk at work. Walking/running on NordicTrack Treadmills is also a terrific idea.
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- Stop Smoking: Quitting smoking will help you to improve your HDL cholesterol amongst promoting other health benefits. Your blood pressure and heart rate will decrease within 20 minutes or so after quitting smoking, and you will lower your risk of heart disease by half after not smoking for one year. Your risk of heart disease after not smoking for fifteen years will be similar to a person who has never smoked in their life.
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- Lose weight: Extra weight may contribute to having high cholesterol and losing about 5 to 10 percent of your weight might improve your cholesterol levels.
Individuals who would like to lose weight should start by evaluating their daily eating lifestyle. He/she should think about what he/she can change their daily eating habit to help them improve their cholesterol.
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The smallest of change can/will add up, and you will be thrilled with the results. Some people like me eat when they are frustrated, depressed, stressed, bored, etc. but we should change that bad habit and go for a walk or jog instead.
For those of us who like to eat out every day for lunch and our options are not all that healthy should try packing a healthy lunch to take to work every day. I now enjoy snacking on carrots (I cut them into sticks because they are easier to bite/chew), celery sticks, air fried chips/chickpeas/peas, and air popcorn.
- Alcohol: We should drink alcohol only in moderation because alcohol contributes to raising your HDL cholesterol level. Healthy adults should drink no more than one drink a day; for all females regardless of age and males at the age of 65-years-old. Healthy men under 65-years-old can drink up to two glasses a day.
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We all know that too much alcohol can result in serious health problems such as but not limited to high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure/disease.
- Supplements: Add supplements to your diet because certain supplements can help you to improve your cholesterol level if eating healthy is not enough. Three supplements that can help you with the approval of your doctor are:
- Plant sterols and stanols might help your body from absorbing the cholesterol. Sterols are known to be added to margarine, spreads, orange juice, yogurt, dietary and a few other products. Stanols can be found in some supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acids with at least 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA can help you with heart disease/high triglycerides.
- Red yeast rice is a common seasoning in Asian countries that can help your body reduce the amount of cholesterol your body makes. Red yeast rice is available as a dietary supplement, but as always, please talk with your doctor before taking red yeast rice or any other medications.
7. Dried Apples: Snack on dried apples because according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – participants that ate 1 cup of dried apples every day lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 13 percent within six months. So it is wise to keep dried apples on hand because you can quickly eat them when temptation kicks in for junk food.
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Some individuals may not see their results immediately but please do not get discouraged because all of us are different and we all will see our results at various times.
For those of us who take medication to help us lower our medicine, you should also try to lower our cholesterol naturally while still taking your medication.