If you are struggling with high cholesterol levels, the good news is that you can easily lower your levels by making a few changes to your lifestyle! Before I share some of these tips with you, i'm going to briefly explain the different types of cholesterol and how they can affect your health.
There are two types of cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also referred to as “bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. High levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol is what you need to watch out for and is most commonly a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries and lead to a number of serious health implications like diseases and strokes.
HDL “good” cholesterol has the opposite effect on your body in comparison to LDL “bad” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol works to protect your body from the adverse effects of LDL cholesterol by keeping the “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries.
Now that you have a better understanding of cholesterol let’s get to the tips!
Eat more plant-based foods
Plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables are high in soluble fibre which is effective at lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Healthy fats like avocado and extra virgin olive oil are a good source of monounsaturated fats which are also effective at lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
HDL-friendly foods that can help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol:
- Soy protein
- Wheat germ and wheat bran
- Extra virgin olive oil
Avoid trans fats
Trans fats have been shown to increase LDL “bad” cholesterol significantly. While small amounts of natural trans fat from animals are considered to be safe in small quantities, artificial trans fats are hazardous to your health. Artificial trans fats have been linked to inflammation, weight gain, and insulin resistance.
Foods to avoid that often contain artificial trans fat:
- Vegetable shortening
- Vegetable oil
- Fried foods
- Bakery products made with vegetable shortening or margarine
- Non-dairy coffee creamers that contain hydrogenated oil
Processed foods like chips, pies, and crackers can also contain artificial trans fats. If a product lists ‘hydrogenated oil’ as an ingredient, it contains artificial trans fat.
We all know smoking is harmful to our health but did you know that your risk of heart disease halves after a year of quitting? Quitting smoking can quickly improve your HDL “healthy” cholesterol level, blood pressure, and blood circulation.
Increase your exercise
Regular exercise is not only good for your overall health and wellbeing, it can also help raise HDL “good” cholesterol. It may be the last thing you feel like doing but just 30 minutes of moderate activity daily has several health benefits.
- A brisk walk after work or on your lunch break
- Gardening or yard work
- Bushwalk or hike
- Yoga class
- Gym session
- Riding your bike instead of driving
Consider a cholesterol-lowering supplement
Despite making changes to your lifestyle and diet, your body may require additional support to lower your cholesterol levels. If advised to use by your general practitioner, cholesterol-lowering supplements can help get your cholesterol levels back in check. It is recommended to get your cholesterol levels checked every few years, especially if high cholesterol runs in your family.