Cholesterol is one of those things that was pretty unheard of a few years ago and yet now it is a big deal and everyone seems to be at risk. Unfortunately most people still don’t really know what it is or how it happens… So let’s tackle that first.
First of all:
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance that your body can get from food or can produce. It insulates nerves and helps produce hormones and overall is a pretty helpful thing to have around. The issue that we have with modern diets is that anything that is found in abundance in our body will be converted to fats and Cholesterol and pretty soon we will have too much of it.
Statins are drugs which are designed to lower cholesterol (there are some other treatments too, but statins are the most common). Unfortunately statins are known to have bad side effects and should generally be considered a last resort. With that being said anything you can do to naturally lower your cholesterol and avoid drug options is always preferable to resorting to drugs.
1: Good Fats & Bad Fats
There are good fats and bad ones. The best fats are monounsaturated fats which can be found in abundance in items such as almonds and other nuts and avocados. These good sources of fat will increase HDL and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). If eating the right foods is tricky you can supplement with things like flaxseed oil which is full of Omega 3 and has all sorts of health benefits.
2: Stick To Low GI
Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how fast carbohydrates are digested. Slower digesting foods are good for lots of reasons, so try avoiding pasta, rice and bread. Replace the calories by upping your protein intake and eat wholemeal instead of white pasta and bread.
3: Get Some Exercise
There aren’t many conditions which won’t be improved by exercise. If you only do one thing on this list, getting more exercise is probably going to make the biggest improvement. If your lifestyle is currently pretty sedentary then 30 minutes jogging or walking 3 times a week will do wonders. And if you are that busy, just cram in 5 minutes here and there where you can. Every little bit helps.
4: Cut The Fat
Being overweight will raise cholesterol, and ironically cholesterol is also more harmful to overweight people – it increase your chances of heart related problems and is likely to shorten your life.
5: Time To Quit
I realise of course that if you smoke there are certainly more pressing health risks and I don’t suppose reading this will be the final straw that makes you quit. But all the same, smoking can increase cholesterol levels whilst at the same time causing cancer, breathing issues and costing you a small fortune…
6: Learn To Relax
People who are stressed a lot tend to live shorted lives and having a lot of stress in your life can cause high cholesterol, so if you find you are at risk, consider slowing down a little and getting control of your stress triggers. If nothing else you will be a happier person for it.
7: Eat Lots Of Fibre
Fibre is good for digestion, your body can’t actually digest it either, so eating plenty of fibre will help you to lose weight and on top of all that it also increases HDL levels in your blood, which lowers bad cholesterol… What more reason do you need to start eating more oats and veg?
8: Find Out Where You Stand
Of course if you don’t know what your cholesterol levels look like right now then you won’t even know if you need to start making changes. Anyone over the age of about 40 or with a family history of cholesterol or heart disease should get tested.
If you do find that your cholesterol levels are high then you can start making some of these changes right away. Ensure that you get retested regularly to find out what progress you have made. You might be surprised how much difference a couple of small changes make.
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