If you have just been diagnosed with high cholesterol you’re probably not sure what to do first. Take a deep breath and relax, there are several simple lifestyle changes that will make coping with and lowering your cholesterol much easier.
1. Follow a healthy diet
Many of the most popular foods today are large contributors to the growing cholesterol problem in America. Once you can identify these, you will be prepared to replace unhealthy foods with “heart healthy” ones.
There are two main nutrients in everyday foods that can lead to elevated LDL levels, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Both of these are found in animal products (meats, eggs, dairy etc). Since both human and animal bodies alike produce their own cholesterol, taking in additional dietary cholesterol can raise levels to an unhealthy amount, since typically we produce enough to keep our systems healthy.
In most cases, it is not necessary to completely cut these products out all together, but limiting them is an effective way to help bring cholesterol levels down. The bulleted list below features some “heart healthy” dietary tips from the American Heart Association.
– Eat your veggies – high in nutrients and vitamins and low in calories
– Incorporate unrefined whole grains into your diet.
– Cut back on alcohol and avoid smoking tobacco or being in contact with secondhand smoke.
– Try taking in no more than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol in a day.
– Eat lean meats that have no additional saturated fat added and also try reduced fat dairy products.
– When eaten twice a week, oily omega-3 fatty acid rich fish can help lower the risk of death from coronary artery disease.
Other cholesterol lowering foods include: nuts, soy protein, oatmeal, vegetable oils (in place of butter or lard) and beans. Keep a watchful eye over your saturated fat intake. It is recommended that no more than 7% of your daily calorie intake come from saturated fat.
Physical activity is a rewarding and effective way to start lowering your LDL levels. If you can commit to exercising for 30 minutes daily, you will begin to see LDL decrease and an increase in HDL, the “good” cholesterol for your body. Losing weight, or staying in shape, is great for your overall mental and physical well being.
Monitor your cholesterol levels
Though the standard for getting your cholesterol tested is at least once every five years if you are over the age of 50, once you have been diagnosed with an elevated blood cholesterol level (200 mg/dL or more), more frequent testing is necessary.