Make Lifestyle Changes for High Cholesterol
If you cholesterol is too high, or if you just want to minimize the risk of heart disease in the future, there are lifestyle changes you can easily make to reach your goal.
• Modify Your Eating Habits – Following a heart-healthy diet may seem like a hard challenge, because it seems that all of the really delicious foods are forbidden in this kind of diet.
However, just paying attention to a few easy guidelines can make it easier, and your heart will really thank you!
1. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is easy to remember that any plants. Another way to remember is to avoid any fats that are firm at room temperature. (The two exceptions are the coconut and palm oils. These, too, are bad for you and are often used on commercially prepared popcorn products and other snack foods). Don’t use animal fats like lard and butter for cooking. Use olive oil and corn or checking the labels of packaged foods and don’t select foods with the wrong kind of fat! Choose lean cuts of meat, try switching to fish (it raises HDL) or skinless white poultry. When eating out, order smaller cuts of meat so you just eat less. Or share your main course and order an extra salad and baked potato. Switch to skim milk and low fat dairy products. 2% milk is still high in fat, so wean yourself down to 1%, then to skim if possible.
2. Choose foods high in starch and fiber. These products are very good for you, and help to give you a “full” feeling! Cut down on the animal foods products and eat more of the healthier plant-based products. Fruits, vegetables, and grain products like oat, barley, and beans are the food to incorporate into a heart healthy diet.
• Be More Physically Active – Physical activity can have a very positive effect on cholesterol. Research has shown that physical activity raises the good HDL cholesterol and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol you should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most days. This is a good way to lower your risk of heart disease along with lowering blood pressure, and reducing stress.
• Lose Weight If You Need To – Being overweight increases cholesterol levels. Several interesting studies have shown that people with extra weight in the stomach, as opposed to those with extra weight in the hips and thighs, are at higher risk for heart disease. Losing even just a little weight can bring cholesterol to healthier levels.
• Medication – The vitamin niacin is very effective in improving cholesterol levels. Although niacin is non-prescription, using it successfully requires guidance from your physician. One group of drugs called “statins” has been very effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Ask your doctor if these drugs might be helpful for your situation.
For More Information
The American Heart Association provides material on heart disease, as well as cholesterol concerns. They also offer a free program called “The Cholesterol Low Down”. Contact them for more details about this special cholesterol program.