If you have high cholesterol, you’re also at higher risk for heart disease. But the good news is, it’s a risk you can control. You can lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good HDL cholesterol. You just have to make some simple changes.
Follow these tips to cut your cholesterol and get back on the road to good health.
- Cut back on animal fats – Forgo fatty meats, like processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni and hot dogs; and fatty red meats, such as ribs and prime cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb. Avoid full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and butter. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol — both associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup.
- Make friends with fiber – Specifically, get friendly with foods high in soluble fiber. In the gut, soluble fiber can bind to bile (which is made up of cholesterol) and remove it. Look for soluble fiber in oats, oat bran, ground flaxseed, psyllium, barley, dried beans and legumes, fruits and root vegetables, as well as some whole-grain cereals.
- Go veggie – Choose at least one meatless meal per week. Substitute animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese) for plant based protein such as beans, lentils, tofu or quinoa. Try these plant-based proteins in salad, soup, stir-fry, or a burrito to decrease your saturated fat intake and increase your fiber intake. If you enjoy meatless meals, try to go meatless for one day per week.
- Lose weight – If you’re overweight or obese, shed the extra pounds. Weight loss helps lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Even a small-to-moderate weight loss — just 10 to 20 pounds — can make an impact.
- Move more – Work up to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day for optimum heart health and weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise means any activity that uses large muscles repetitively and increases the heart rate. Think walking, cycling, rowing, using the elliptical and swimming.
- Make a habit of it – Consistency is the key. Work out regularly and you’ll watch your triglyceride levels drop. Triglycerides are the only lipid in the cholesterol profile used for energy. They decrease an average of 24 percent with regular cardiovascular exercise.
Source: Cleveland Clinic