Do you know where your cholesterol is? Don’t assume your cholesterol is fine just because the doctor said so several years ago.
If your doctor determines your fasting total cholesterol level exceeds 200 or if your LDL cholesterol level is above 100, you can get it down safely with these simple lifestyle modifications.
1. Set a target.
How low can you go? Well, that depends. If you have a family or personal history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity or other high risk factors, your doctor might set a goal of less than 70. A target of less than 130 is generally okay for people with moderate risk factors. If you have two or more risk factors, it’s important to get treatment early.
2. Get physical.
Regular moderate exercise can lower LDL, bad cholesterol, and raise good cholesterol or HDL by up to 10 percent. Take a brisk walk for 30-45 minutes five days a week. No matter what moderate physical activity you chose it’s important to do it regularly and stay consistent.
3. Steer clear of saturated fat.
Gone are the days when doctors thought the answer was to cut back on egg intake. It is saturated fat that is the main culprit. That means slow down on the butter, shortening, lard, stick margarine, and substitue canola oil or olive oil in place of vegetable oil.
4. Eat more fiber.
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Soluble fiber especially can help lower cholesterol. It absorbs cholesterol like a sponge, so incorporate more beans, barley and oats into your diet.
5. Go fish.
Fish is full of cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and canned tuna are great sources of omega-3s. The recommendation is two or three servings a week.
Fish oil supplements can also have a profound effect on cholesterol levels. Plant sources of omega-3s, however, simply do not provide the same type of omega-3s as fish. Fish and fish oil are chockablock with cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends fish as the preferred source of omega-3s but if fish is not an option talk to your doctor about supplements.