We’ve written about cholesterol on our blog in the past and provided some definitions as to what it is as well as explanations to LDL and HDL. However, in today’s post we’ll dig deeper and provide tips on how to better manage cholesterol in your life through diet and exercise.
Diet & Cholesterol
Eating heart-healthy foods is essential, follow these simple changes in your diet to reduce cholesterol and improve your overall heart health:
- Reduce saturated fats; they are found mainly in red meat and full-fat dairy products. Why? Decreasing consumption of saturated fats can reduce your “bad” cholesterol — the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
- Eliminate trans fats. They are sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” and are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Overall, they will raise your cholesterol levels. The use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration Jan. 1, 2021.
- Ensure consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They don’t affect LDL cholesterol, but they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds.
- Increase your soluble fiber consumption, it can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. You can find it in oatmeal, kidney beans, apples and pears.
- Add whey protein to your diet; it is found in dairy products. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and blood pressure.
Exercise and cholesterol
Try your best to exercise on most days of the week and increase your physical activity, it can help you control your cholesterol condition.
Moderate physical activity can help you in raising the ‘good’ cholesterol – high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
After confirming that your health condition allows you to exercise, work out to at least:
30 minutes 5 times a week
Vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week
Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight.
- Taking a daily walk during your lunch break
- Ride your bike to work
- Play your favorite sport
- Joining an exercise group or finding an exercise buddy will help you in staying motivated.
Cholesterol and smoking
We don’t need to tell you that smoking is bad! Quitting smoking will help you in improving your HDL cholesterol level.
This benefit occurs quickly within:
- 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike.
- Three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve.
- A year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
Cholesterol and weight loss
Carrying even a few extra kilograms will contribute to high cholesterol.
Small changes can actually make a huge difference.
- Avoid drinking sugary beverages, instead drink tap water
- Take a snack of air-popped popcorn or pretzels — but ensure keeping track of the calories
- If you are craving something sweet, try candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans
- Look for ways to include exercise more into your daily routine, for example use the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking away from your office
- Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing odd jobs around the house.