7 Tips For Lowering Cholesterol: How To Change Nutrition And Exercise For Heart Health
Managing Cholesterol Depends on Choosing the Right Diet and Exercise Routine | Photo credit: iStock Images
- Certain foods deliver soluble fiber to our digestive tract, and they bind cholesterol and carry it out of the body throughout the digestion process before it is put into circulation.
- You need to know which foods are good for balancing and controlling your cholesterol. This article also explains which exercise is right for you.
Having high cholesterol can make your body feel like a time bomb. While we can’t see this waxy substance sticking to the inner lining of our blood vessels, cholesterol silently continues its march as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
No one knowingly invites sickness and ill health. But as we go with the pace of life, sometimes regular checkups are missed and that’s when the silent killers creep in. High cholesterol, like high blood sugar, is a silent thief that siphons off health gains before you notice it, causing a lot of damage.
Not all cholesterol is bad. These fats (lipids) are needed in small amounts for several vital functions such as:
- Build the structure of cell membranes.
- Make hormones like estrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones,
- Help our metabolism to function efficiently,
- To help the body produce vitamin D, etc.
The villain of the coin is low density lipoprotein or LDL (bad cholesterol) which contributes to the buildup of plaque along with triglycerides, another type of lipid. Plaque can threaten the blood supply to the heart, brain, legs, or kidneys, leading to a heart attack, stroke, or even death. The other type of cholesterol is high density lipoprotein, or HDL (good cholesterol), which works against LDL and discourages plaque build-up. So when you read your lipid profile report next time, check if HDL is on the higher side and LDL is in the healthy range. It would be a good balance.
To reduce your risk of heart emergencies, we bring you a report on this Cleveland Clinic (USA), one of the best hospitals in the world, shares on its website. If you’re looking for tips on how to lower cholesterol through diet and get the most out of exercise, here’s what Kate Patton (Registered Dietitian) and Michael Crawford (Exercise Physiologist) have to offer.
- Decrease the use of animal fats: According to Heart.com, eating too much saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol levels in your blood. High LDL cholesterol in your blood increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. This type of fat is generally solid during winters. Saturated fat is found in foods of animal origin like beef, pork, poultry, whole dairy products and eggs and tropical oils like coconut and palm. So take it easy on consuming processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni, and hot dogs, as well as fatty red meats like ribs and choice cuts of beef, pork, or veal. lamb. Chicken or turkey skin, whole dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter all contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol, both of which are associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup.
- Fiber is good for you: According to Mayo Clinic, soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Eating even a little bit of fibrous foods (like a serving of breakfast cereal with oats, oatmeal, or oat bran) helps lower your LDL cholesterol. In the intestine, soluble fiber can bind to and eliminate bile (made up of cholesterol). Eat more ground flax seeds, psyllium, barley, beans and legumes, fruits, and whole grains.
- Nothing beats a good meal of vegetables: Give up meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and say yes to plant proteins like beans, lentils, tofu or quinoa. According to a report in Harvard Health, a largely vegetarian “diet portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” significantly lowers LDL, triglycerides and blood pressure. The main food components are many fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined products, and protein mainly from plants.
- Take it easy on the carbs: Research shows that following a low-carb diet can help you lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grain starches, beans, lentils, and whole fruits, which will provide you with the energy you need but also keep you feeling full. Aim for a cup of starchy foods at most, or fruit, but stock up on low-calorie, high-fiber veggies. – at any time of the meal
- Lose excess weight, improve health: Provided you are overweight or obese, any weight loss helps lower LDL cholesterol. Even small to moderate weight loss – just 10 to 20 pounds – can have an impact. Start by eliminating excess starch from meals and eat lean protein instead. Start paying attention to the plate size, portion size, number of servings, etc. Eat fruit instead of drinking juice. Eat only when you are hungry.
- Activity is the key: Get up to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day for optimal heart health and weight loss. Choose any sport you like and can do: walking, cycling, jogging, trekking, etc. Once you have safely mastered moderate-intensity exercise, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) once or twice a week. Emerging research suggests that this type of training may enhance the benefits of moderate-intensity exercise, especially for raising HDL cholesterol. If you can maintain consistency in the exercises, you may see the triglyceride levels drop. Triglycerides are the only lipid in the cholesterol profile used for energy. They decrease by an average of 24% with regular cardiovascular exercise.
- Use apps, if you like: There are many great tech tools that can give you information by tracking your physical activity and what you eat, as well as various important health indicators. Smartphone apps often have exercise tracker, motivation skills, calorie trackers, and tips. But remember, no device or app can replace the right lifestyle choices of healthy eating and proper exercise.
A note of caution: Always consult a physician before beginning any exercise routine. Also, never overdo the exercises. Listen to your body. If you experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, excessive shortness of breath, dizziness, or palpitations, stop exercising and see a doctor.
Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting a fitness program or making any changes to your diet.