Reduce Cholesterol

Jan 25 by

Food and Exercise Strategies to Reduce Your Cholesterol

If you have been told by your doctor you have elevated cholesterol levels, there are strategies you can use to reduce cholesterol without resorting to medication.

Lifestyle change

Employing non-drug methods comes with a need to view these strategies as a lifestyle change, rather than a short term plan. Lifestyle changes can be difficult to institute but, if you are determined, it can be done with some will-power. After a while, your new habits will feel natural and you will wonder why you did not start earlier.

Fats

The first reform that comes to most peoples’ minds when talking about lowering cholesterol is the need to cut out fats. That, however, is not necessarily the best approach. Evidence has shown consuming more healthy fats and less unhealthy fats is more successful than trying to eliminate fats altogether. Your body still requires a certain amount of cholesterol to function properly.

Unhealthy fats 

The unhealthy fats you want to avoid or limit are trans fat and saturated fats. Trans fat are usually in fried foods, margarine, shortening, baking and crackers. Any food with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil contains trans fat.

Saturated fats are found in animal products and will increase your cholesterol levels more than any other form of food. Animal products are meats, butter, whole-milk and cheese.

Healthier fats

Healthier fats are monounsaturated fats found in peanut butter, avocados, nuts and olive and canola oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are also included in the healthy fat category. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, flaxseed and walnuts.

 

Fiber

Another food that has been researched and proved beneficial for lowering cholesterol is fiber. There are two types of fiber: soluble and non-soluble. Fiber originates only in plant foods. You want to focus on soluble fiber.

Fiber-rich foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and seeds and nuts. Soluble fiber aids in minimizing cholesterol because it binds to bile acids in the intestine which contain cholesterol and, thus, more cholesterol is expelled from your body.

Pectin, a soluble fiber, has the added benefit of slowing down digestion. You will not feel hungry as fast and less likely to overeat. Apples, pears, oranges, peaches, berries and grapes all contain pectin – so the old saying about an apple a day is not far off the mark!

You might also want to consider taking a multi-vitamin supplement each day. Research has revealed folic acid and Vitamin B6 and B12 may be beneficial for heart health.

Exercise

The second transformation in your life is, obviously, exercise. This does not have to be as onerous as you might imagine. For an investment of 30 minutes five times a week, combined with healthy eating habits, your cholesterol and weight will drop. You can break the 30 minutes into two 15 minutes sessions and still receive benefits.

Exercise can be anything from moderately-brisk walk to running, as long as it is aerobic and raises your heart rate. The best approach to staying with an exercise regime is to find at least two activities you enjoy. Continuously performing only one type of exercise will probably lead to boredom and you will eventually stop. Aerobic exercise could include swimming, biking, aerobic classes, and elliptical, cross ramp and stair master cardio machines. Exercising does not have to be a solitary pursuit. Team sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball and, even, badminton will get you in action. If you want to make exercise fun, try dance classes such as jazzercise, line or belly.

Before you implement any nutritional or exercise plan, be sure to speak with your doctor first to get his or her approval or any other suggestions.

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