How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally: 6 Things You Can Do Every Day
Your body needs cholesterol. Cholesterol is an essential part of building healthy cells, and your body simply can’t function without it. But as you may have heard, not all cholesterol is created equal.
Here are six things you can do to lower your cholesterol without taking medication, including cholesterol-lowering foods and ideas for light exercise.
Read nutrition labels and avoid trans fats
You’ve probably heard this advice over and over again because it’s one of the easiest things you can do to control your diet: read nutrition labels.
In addition to showing you how to eat a heart-healthy diet, nutrition labels can help you avoid one of the worst ingredients for lowering cholesterol levels: trans fats.
Trans fats, also known as “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,” are tricky ingredients that may be good for food manufacturers, but not so good for you.
Trans fats can extend the shelf life of products, making them easier to transport and store. They are found in many processed foods and are often found in baked goods made with margarine and shortening. Unfortunately, they can also raise bad LDL cholesterol levels – while lowering good HDL cholesterol levels.
So, if you really want to lower your cholesterol, read the labels and avoid trans fats whenever possible. They are one of the biggest culprits of excess cholesterol, and eliminating them from your diet is a good decision.
Choose meats that are low in saturated fat, such as fish and poultry
Is your pantry empty? Does your refrigerator look a little emptier than usual? Before you head to the grocery store to restock, review your shopping list and see if there are opportunities to make some simple protein changes.
First, eat less red meat. Most red meat is high in saturated fat, which can raise bad LDL cholesterol levels. To eat healthier, choose skinless chicken or turkey and avoid processed meats. You can also try adding more fish to your diet.
Fish is low in saturated fat and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and can raise good HDL cholesterol levels. Here are some types of fish you can eat on a weekly or monthly basis.
However, I can’t resist steak and hamburgers. When grilling, choose the meat with the fewest cuts. As with everything else, it is normal to have some saturated fat in your diet. You just have to eat it in moderation.
Switch to low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt
Making the choice to lower your cholesterol doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love. When it comes to dairy products, choosing healthier alternatives is an important area where it’s an easy win.
For products like cheese, milk, cream, and yogurt, replace the regular versions with low-fat dairy products. If you’re feeling experimental, try soy milk, too. Who knows? It could be your next craving.
Full-fat dairy products contain saturated fat and cholesterol, so these changes can be helpful. Choosing a low-fat (or fat-free) option can help raise your blood cholesterol levels.
Try to eat one vegetarian meal a week
Don’t let the word “vegetarian” scare you. Choosing a vegetarian diet wisely can achieve lower cholesterol all at once, including eating healthy fats and eating more soluble fiber. Plus, many vegetarian foods are just as tasty and filling as their meat-based cousins.
Here’s an idea for a low-cholesterol recipe: Try a fresh salad made with sesame dressing and spiced baked tofu. For dessert, add fresh blueberries, strawberries or oats to low-fat vanilla yogurt.
The key is to establish a routine so that every Tuesday night is a vegetarian night. Once that becomes the norm, try extending the formula to other nights or adding a vegan breakfast once a week. You can also become a “flexitarian” by simply eating less meat. Over time, these changes can really add up and pay off.
Move around a little more in your daily activities
Keeping your body moving allows you to do the things you are designed to do for a variety of health benefits. These include increasing good HDL cholesterol, managing blood pressure levels and many other heart-healthy benefits.
Do I need to start running every day? Do you need to sign up at a fitness center or buy a bunch of gym equipment and keep it at home? If you want to do it, go ahead and do it! But there are many other options, and the most important thing is to find a routine that works for you.
Ideally, you should aim for at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate exercise per week. You can break it down as you see fit, and you can focus on one activity a day or just a few days a week. The key is to get started.
Even if it’s just walking a little farther or faster than usual, this extra activity is a big step toward better health.
Work with your doctor to develop a plan to lower your cholesterol (especially if you are overweight or smoke).
Lowering your cholesterol doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Your doctor is a partner who can help you along the way.
Your doctor can create a plan of action based on your needs that incorporates lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to help you lower and control your cholesterol.
For example, losing weight and quitting smoking can be very helpful in lowering cholesterol. Quitting smoking can raise levels of good HDL cholesterol, while losing weight can significantly lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
However, neither of these tasks is easy. Fortunately, your doctor can be a valuable resource to help you get started and find practical ways to continue. In addition, if you have health insurance, help with quitting smoking and losing weight may already be covered.
Whether you are trying to quit smoking or lose weight, regular checkups with your doctor are essential to simply understand how your personal health can benefit from lowering your cholesterol levels. Your doctor can also perform a cholesterol test – the only way to actually measure your cholesterol.
You can start lowering your cholesterol naturally
By changing your diet, exercising more, quitting smoking, losing weight (if necessary), and talking to your doctor, you can get on the right path to improving your cardiovascular health in a sustainable way.
Does this sound difficult to manage? Don’t be intimidated. Lowering high cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean your life will change completely. Instead, start by changing your mindset. By adopting new habits instead of turning away from things, you can create a healthier, more enjoyable future.
It’s a good idea to start focusing on your mental health. If you need support, reach out to your friends and family. Remember, your doctor will always be there to advice, motivate and encourage you to reach your goals and live a healthier life.