Cholesterol is not an uncommon problem. In fact, it is safe to say that tens of millions of people across the globe will suffer from cholesterol related problems throughout their life. Not knowing how to take care of your body, when high cholesterol is a concern, can mean the difference between life and death, so we have created a small list of do’s and don’ts in order to help you nail cholesterol control with ease!
Just like with weight loss, weight gain and any other health benefits you may actively seek, your diet should be your number 1 priority, and when trying to keep your cholesterol levels in check, this rule is especially important. Most of the dramatic changes in our cholesterol levels come from changes in our diet, be they good, or bad. Let’s take a look at what you should be doing in terms of diet, and what you shouldn’t be doing:
What to do:
In any lifestyle changes you make in order to improve your cholesterol levels, your main goal will be to increase your levels of HDL (the good stuff), whilst at the same time, reducing your levels of LDL (the bad stuff). Although there has been no scientific proof of any food having the ability to increase your levels of HDL, there has been proof of certain foods which can help lower LDL levels, ultimately making your total cholesterol levels healthier, and your HDL cholesterol’s roles more effective and significant.
Before we take a look at specific foods which may help with the control of your cholesterol levels, it is good to remind yourself that you should not need a motive to improve your healthy eating habits. A healthy balanced diet does far more than decrease your risk of heart disease, so whether you reach your goals or not, it is a good idea to always eat clean and healthy.
Possibly one of the most influential nutrients on your cholesterol levels is soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is the best type of fiber to consume when lowering LDL levels is your goal, and adding just 5g of extra fiber to your daily intake, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other side effects of high cholesterol, significantly. Good sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, whole grains, wheat bread, brown rice and several fruits (apples, pears etc.). Another good food which is responsible for lowering your livers production of LDL cholesterol is garlic. It may not taste the best, but in terms of health benefits, this small type of onion is in a league of its own. Whether you eat it raw, or cooked, adding garlic to your diet can do wonders for your hearts health.
A balanced diet is essential when trying to control cholesterol levels, and maintaining a healthy diet does not have to be hard. Mixing a good amount of soluble fiber with a good amount of protein, mono-unsaturated fats and carbohydrates is all that is needed. Add in some essential minerals and vitamins, and you have yourself a fat fighting, health promoting diet which is sure to drop those cholesterol levels, indefinitely.
What not to do:
Not all foods contain cholesterol, and some obviously contain more than others, but let’s take a look at exactly what foods we should steer clear from when lowering, or maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Cholesterol generally comes from animals, so eating foods which come directly from an animal are usually high in cholesterol. Example foods include fatty red meats, whole milk, egg yolk, butter and cheese. All of these foods are essential for most people, and a luxury for some, but if you don’t want to take that risk of overloading your blood vessels with life threatening LDL, then disregarding them from your diet will be a good idea.
Obviously, asking people to completely eliminate daily essentials from their diet can be hard, but even if you can’t cut out high-cholesterol foods completely, then consuming them in moderation is the next best thing. Only eat high-cholesterol foods when you need to, not when you want to.
Now, animals are not the only thing to blame when regarding high cholesterol foods. Unhealthy fats such as saturated and Trans are another no-go when on a low cholesterol diet. Foods which are high in unhealthy fats tend to be ones which are either baked, or fried. Obviously, unhealthy fats are found in natural products such as meat and dairy foods, but the ones which have the most significant effect on our blood pressure are baked and fried goods. We all know baked goods when we see them, and in today’s age, everybody knows about fast-food, so spotting these unhealthy foods should be a breeze. Foods which are high in unhealthy fats are responsible for sending LDL levels through the roof, whist damaging the HDL, giving you double the trouble. It is recommended to stay away from fried goods, pastries and commercially baked goods.
For some people, a diet alone is not enough to help reduce their cholesterol levels to anywhere near healthy. For these types of people, and everybody else for that matter: Exercise is key!
Small amounts of exercise, such as 30 minutes walking every day has been proven to help reduce risks of heart disease by up to 50%. Small amounts of weight loss, even as low as a few pounds, have been noted to reduce cholesterol levels and overall health significantly. Exercise has tons of health benefits, such as increased energy, lower blood pressure and reduced chance of developing arthritis.
When people think of exercise, they typically think of spending hours in the gym, putting their body through vast amounts of pain, or spending constant hours running on a treadmill. Although a solid gym routine and a run on a treadmill are great for more physically active people, the ones who are new to exercising have no excuses, as exercise is part of everybody’s daily regime. Cleaning the house, washing the car, walking up the steps at work are all forms of exercise, and whether you know it or not, they are having a good effect on your health. A good way to take your exercising efforts to the next level is by simply substituting the car, or public transportation with walking. A brisk walk for only 10 minutes will get your heart rate up, leading to a stronger heart and lower risk of any heart problems.
It is recommended that everybody takes part in at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity every day. This can be done all at once, or broken up into 3 stages of 10 minutes, but if you are serious about your health, and your cholesterol levels, then this should not be left out.
Fasting Lipoprotein Profile:
A fasting lipoprotein profile is basically a blood test, which determines your total cholesterol levels, and more specifically, the levels of both LDL and HDL. Knowing this information is necessary. As not knowing you have high cholesterol will not allow you to make the changes needed to take them back down to a healthy level. It is recommended that an adult, aged 20 plus, has a cholesterol level check at least every 5 years, but if cholesterol, or heart disease is something which runs in your family, then a check-up every 3 years is better. The blood test is simple and can be carried out by your local GP.