7 Tips to Maintain or Lower Your Cholesterol
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to get your cholesterol numbers closer to optimal, you’re not alone. Experts estimate that about 100 million Americans have high lipid levels. But don’t despair—you have the power to make a positive impact on your cholesterol with a few lifestyle changes.
Move more. Regular exercise has been shown to raise your HDL, or “good” cholesterol, by up to 10%, as well as to lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. You don’t have to be a fitness junkie to see benefits, either—even taking a brisk walk 5 days a week is beneficial. To really amp up your resolution, get yourself a pedometer and aim to get 10,000 steps on most days.
Get more fiber. Fiber isn’t just filling and good for digestive health—soluble fiber also binds with cholesterol and can help you to lower your LDL levels by up to 5%. Fiber can be found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains (oatmeal is a great source) and supplements. Aim to get 30-40 grams each day.
Avoid saturated fat. Saturated fat is a solid at room temperature, so let that be your guide about which fats to avoid. Butter, bacon grease, coconut oil, and shortening (often used in deep frying) are all saturated fats. Try to use vegetable oils like canola or olive oil instead whenever possible.
Lower your overall fat intake. While healthy fats are important for brain health and satiety, be sure you’re not getting more than you should. Choose low-fat dairy products and leaner meats, and use cheeses and oils sparingly.
Get fishy. Have heart-healthy fish at least twice a week. Cold-water ocean fish like salmon and tuna have especially high levels of HDL-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, so choose those whenever you’re able. If you don’t like fish, talk with your doctor about whether a fish oil supplement would be appropriate.
Go meatless. You don’t have to eliminate meat entirely, but it can be very helpful to place the emphasis on other foods—perhaps heart-healthy beans, fish, and high-fiber vegetables! Your Vida coach can make recipe suggestions.
Don’t discount medication. While there are many lifestyle changes and approaches that can improve your cholesterol, some people, especially those in a higher-risk category, do need medication to manage their lipids adequately. Talk with your doctor about her goals and strategy with lipid-lowering medications.