Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood that builds up on the walls of your arteries. It narrows your arteries, preventing blood from flowing freely to your heart. Because blood carries oxygen to your heart, it’s important to keep your arteries clear of LDL (bad cholesterol). Having high cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
So how do you manage (or avoid developing) high cholesterol? Though it can be caused by genetics, high cholesterol often develops because of your diet and exercise habits. The tips below are a good starting point for managing your cholesterol.
Nutrition for better cholesterol
- Eat plant-based foods (vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains) at every meal- even breakfast. It’s easy to stir veggies into your eggs or add fruit to whole grain oatmeal.
- Enjoy healthy fats (monounsaturated) like those found in olive oil, avocados, fish, flaxseed and nuts. These fats can boost your HDL (good cholesterol) levels and help decrease your LDL levels.
- Keep up on your fiber. Fiber helps lower your risk of heart disease. You’ll find fiber in whole grains, fruit, beans and vegetables.
Get moving- every little bit helps
- Go for a walk every day. Taking a 30 minute brisk walk 5 days a week can cause a significant decrease in your LDL levels.
- Don’t fear hills. Vigorous exercise like jogging or walking up an incline (on the stairs or treadmill) can boost your HDL levels, which in turn lowers your LDL levels.
- Get your friends to exercise with you. There’s nothing like a little friendly peer pressure to keep you accountable for your daily exercise. When you know your friends are counting on you to join them, it will be harder to skip your daily walk.
If you already have high cholesterol, don’t give up. You can lower your high cholesterol over time by monitoring what you eat and exercising regularly. If you don’t yet have high cholesterol, remember that prevention is often easier than treatment. Start making healthy choices now to avoid future health risks.