When you have high cholesterol levels, it becomes essential to manage those numbers better to prevent the onset of a stroke or any other heart disease. Asides from the drugs that your doctor may prescribe to help you bring down the numbers, you also need a lifestyle and diet change. These simple habits will make it easier to transition from your old diet and lifestyle into a healthier, active one.
The body typically only needs small amounts of cholesterol, especially the good type. Unfortunately, a lot of foods we eat contain too much cholesterol, especially the bad kind. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, is gotten from saturated fat, especially in food of animal origin. It transports cholesterol to your heart. Too much LDL may cause plaque to build up and block your heart arteries, leading to heart disease. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), on the other hand, transports cholesterol to the liver, helping the body get rid of bad cholesterol, so it doesn’t end up in the arteries.
Physical activity, even as little as 30 minutes every day of the week, can help to lower your bad and increase your good cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risks of clogged arteries. It doesn’t have to be tedious either. Aerobic exercises like brisk walking and running are an excellent way to start. Physical activity isn’t limited to the gym. You can play with your kids, dance, walk your dog, garden, do house chores, or hike – just as long as you’re moving.
Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of antioxidants that can lower LDL levels. They also have a lot of fiber that keeps you too full to eat fatty foods, keeping your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in check.
Beans and whole grains like whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa also contain more fiber that will keep you fuller for longer, while controlling your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. On the other hand, carbs like white rice, white bread, pastries, potatoes will only increase your blood sugar levels and cause you to overeat.
You cannot exclude fat from your diet because you need it, believe it or not. The type of fat and the quantity you consume is all that matters. Choose unsaturated fats like those found in olive, canola, and sunflower oils over saturated fats found in meat, butter, dairy, and palm oil. Additionally, nuts like pecans, almonds, and walnuts are a good snack option. They are rich in monounsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats lower LDL levels, and raise HDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risks of heart diseases.
Omega-3 is a type of fat that helps to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the blood, slowing the development of plaque in the heart arteries. A good source of this is fatty fish like tuna, sardines, salmon, and trout.
Restaurant food, especially fast food, can contain excess calories, sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Be smart about the food choices you make when eating out. Choose grilled, baked, steamed, and broiled foods over fried foods. Put your sauces on the side, rather than slathering it over the food. Most importantly, control your food portions. If you must eat packaged foods, check the label for the serving size, ingredients, and nutritional information. Ensure that they fall within the recommended daily allowance.
Monitor your progress and celebrate each win. Every step you take towards living a healthier life is a number less on your cholesterol readings. Visit your doctor regularly to keep track of your numbers.