Quick And Easy Ways To Reduce Your Cholesterol Levels
By Health and Fitness Team
Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
According to plenty of research on both sides of the Atlantic, Black people in Britain and the United States have the greatest risk of developing heart disease. There are many different reasons why. One of the most common is that we as a people tend to have lower levels of HDL - known as ‘good’ cholesterol.
It is vital, then, to ensure that you aren’t consuming too much LDL - or ‘bad’ - cholesterol. Doing so will put you in the driving seat and give you more control over your chances of developing heart conditions and other illnesses.
With this in mind, we thought we would give you some tips on how to deal with high cholesterol levels. There’s a lot to think about, so let’s get started right away.
Get a check
First things first - go and see your doctor. You can’t see your cholesterol levels with the naked eye, although you may feel a few symptoms. However, in most cases, you will need to undergo a simple series of tests to establish your cholesterol level. Knowing what you are dealing with will help you and your doctor develop a strategy so you can move forward.
Lose some weight
First of all, lose some weight. Make sure you are running at a calorie deficiency - but also ensure you are doing so safely. The recommended guidelines suggest it is safe to lose 1-2 pounds every week. Exercise can help, too, so start getting up a little earlier in the morning for a workout. Not only will exercise burn off fat, but it will also help you build muscle, which will boost your metabolism. Losing weight is proven to reduce your LDL levels of cholesterol - and you don’t even have to lose all that much. 2.5 hours of exercise will also improve your HDL levels - so it’s well worth doing.
Stop eating trans fats
Trans fats are everywhere, and hard to avoid. You will find them in all the ‘nice’ stuff that is ever so tempting to eat. Pizzas, fried food, cakes, and pies - they are all full of trans fats. The trouble is, they will increase your LDL and lower your HDL cholesterol levels. And, that will expose you to far greater risk of developing heart disease or a stroke. The FDA is trying to remove trans fats from the general food supply, but for the moment, it’s all down to you. Start choosing your food more carefully, and always read the labels. Anything that contains partially hydrogenated oil is full of trans fats - so avoid them wherever possible.
Eat whole foods
Start eating whole foods that are packed full of fiber. Oatmeal and pulses are a great source of fiber, and can help you stop absorbing so much cholesterol. You don’t have to eat much of more fibrous foods to start having an effect. A small addition every day can lower your LDL levels. Fiber also fills up your stomach, so it feels like you are full and don't need anything else to eat. It’s the perfect way to avoid getting hunger pangs later on in the day. When, of course, it is far more tempting to grab an unhealthy snack.
Avoid high cholesterol sauces
Creamy sauces tend to be a lot higher in cholesterol than others, so think carefully about how much you are consuming. Hollandaise sauce, for example, has enormous cholesterol levels - as has horseradish and mayonnaise. There are healthier alternatives to choose from. According to this Hampton Creek article on LA Times, there are egg-free versions that are far better for you than the standard mayo you buy from a store. It’s OK to eat sauces such as this once in awhile. But, use them sparingly and less regularly and you will find your cholesterol problems will start to get better.
Eat more fish
Everyone should be eating fish at least twice a week - and up to four times. Fish is full of omega-3 fats which are excellent for your heart. Plus, using fish is also a good replacement for high cholesterol foods such as fatty red meat. Your best bet is to go for oily fish such as mackerel, tuna or salmon. Sardines are also a good, oily fish - although something of an acquired taste. Pick a fish you are happy with and you should see your cholesterol levels improve.
Stay off butter
Butter is full of cholesterol, so try cutting back on how much you use. However, don’t opt for low-fat versions such as margarine. They are often even worse. Instead, use olive oil as a substitute. Doing so can cut your bad cholesterol levels by anything up to 15%. And, it won't take long to get used to the difference in taste or texture. In just a few weeks without butter, you will start noticing the taste everywhere in packaged foods and meals. Go for extra-virgin olive oil if possible, as it contains heart-disease busting antioxidants.
Eat more nuts
Bringing moire nuts into your diet can help you reduce levels of cholesterol in your body, too. However, don’t overindulge. Nuts are surprisingly dense in calories - ideal for a power-packed punch of energy, but can also stop you losing weight. In moderation, though, there are an array of advantages of eating nuts. They contain sterols which can lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your body and reduce absorption.
Finally, try to be a little happier with the cards life has dealt you. There are two reasons why. First of all, smiling and laughing increases the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. The second reason is that when you are under stress, your cholesterol production goes through the roof. So, if you are feeling the pressure in life, try and walk away, breathe, and relax a little more. It will have a positive effect - just as much as the other ideas in this post.
Do you suffer from high cholesterol? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences. How do you keep track of your diet and does it have much effect on your lifestyle? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.