According to the American Heart Association, approximately 98.6 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol. Are you one of them? If you are, you most certainly do not have to be. By lowering your cholesterol to a safe level, you will be able to significantly reduce your chances of suffering from a heart attack, a stroke, or coronary heart disease.
If you are interested in a long and healthy life, there are many things you can do to effectively control your cholesterol and keep your body on the right track. Listed in this article are five great ways to do just that!
1. Cut out the saturated fats.
Fatty cuts of meat, cheeses, margarine, whole milk, and eggs are just a few of the things that we love. Unfortunately, they don’t love us. These foods are full of saturated fat. By reducing the amount of food containing saturated fat that you eat, you stand a fighting chance in your battle against cholesterol. There are a lot of healthy alternatives to those foods out on the market today. Consider lean meats such and turkey and fish in place of red meat and bacon. Look for reduced fat or fat free cheeses and milks rather than 100% dairy products. If you’re in the mood for eggs, pick up a carton of cholesterol free egg beaters, and you’ll love yourself for the changes you’re making in the long run.
2. Mono/Polyunsaturated Fat & Omega -3 Fatty Acids: Don’t be afraid of them!
There are some foods out there that contain fat, but raise the amount of HDL cholesterol (or good cholesterol) in our systems when we eat them. Eating foods that contain mono and polyunsaturated (good) fats doesn’t raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and there’s a fair bit of evidence supporting the actual lowering of bad cholesterol by eating “good” fats rather than saturated fat. Foods such as fish, nuts, canola oil, and avocados contain both types of unsaturated fat.
In addition to containing the good unsaturated fats, fish can also be beneficial because of their omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish two times per week, of course, being mindful of mercury levels in seafood. Also containing omega-3 fatty acids is a very good (in my opinion) margarine substitute, Smart Balance.
3. Increase the fiber in your diet.
Most fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, and oatmeal are great sources of dietary fiber. Our bodies do not absorb fiber. Instead, it sweeps through our system absorbing excess fats and bile. This keeps our intestines from reabsorbing potential junk, allowing us to pass it instead. If this isn’t a good reason to find a permanent place for these foods in your daily diet, I don’t know what is. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s list of beneficial, high-fiber foods.
4. Get in shape.
According to the experts at eHealthMD, one of the causes of high cholesterol may be your weight. If you’re not sure whether or not it would benefit you to lose weight, consult with your doctor about what your ideal weight should be. Even, if you’re not in need of weight loss, it is recommended by most health experts that you enjoy 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise daily.
5. Consider a prescription medication.
Even if your diet is in check and you are exercising regularly, there is still a chance that cholesterol is a concern for you. High cholesterol can be hereditary, and regardless of your attempts to control it naturally, you still may be unable to. In circumstances like this, it may be advisable to consider a prescription medication such as Lipitor, Zocor, or Crestor. These are cholesterol lowering drugs, known as statins, that lower the level of LDL cholesterol in your body by blocking the liver enzymes that make cholesterol. If you suffer from hereditary cholesterol problems, it may be beneficial for you to consult your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking a prescription drug.
All five of these methods are not only great for people who wish to lower their cholesterol, but for anyone who wants to eat smart and live healthy. Regardless of your cholesterol level, you can truly benefit from doing these five things. Whether you take it upon yourself to try one or all of them, you are on your way to developing a great habit for life.
If you’re interested in more information about lowering your cholesterol or just living a healthy lifestyle, there are many great resources on the web for you to explore. Here are just a few:
The American Heart Association
The US Department of Agriculture
The Mayo Clinic