Ways to Lower Cholesterol through Diet & Exercise

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14 years ago, I was not eating healthy at all, Hardee's biscuits, fried food, soft drinks, & very little exercise. During my annual physical my lLDL Cholesterol level was 160! It should be optimally around 100. So my Doctor thought it best that I begin taking a Statin drug to lower my LDL. Well, I read the reviews about those types of drugs and the infamous side effects. So I made a conscious decision to change my life style! I cut out all fast food, fried food (fried chicken on occasion now :) ), soft drinks and began following the Mediterranean Food Plan/Life style. Lots of fish, chicken, fresh fruits, vegetables, very little red meat, long grain brown rice, pasta, olive oil instead of butter, red wine in moderation and started exercising by simply walking. 9 months later on a followup for cholesterol, my LDL was down to 108! My Doctor said she was glad that I was taking the statins, which I said I did not take, simply changed my lifestyle, which she applauded. I now am 71 and still do not take any medications...I cook and bake all my meals, 20-25 pushups 4-6 days a week and average 3 miles of walking daily. My LDL is still @ 110.
So it can be done. I believe Hippocrates said..."You can use food as your medicine or medicine shall be thy food". So eat healthy to help you stay healthy!



Research shows that if you are overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower your cholesterol levels. If you are using www.myfooddiary.com to reach or maintain your healthy weight, you've already taken the first step. Here are more ways you can lower your cholesterol through diet and exercise:

* Limit saturated fats to less than 7 percent of total calories. Saturated fats are most often found in animal products, such as red meat and butter.

* Eliminate trans fatty acids from your diet. Trans fats are found in processed foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Even foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can be labeled trans fat-free so check ingredient lists and avoid foods with “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list.
Limit dietary cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less per day. Those who have been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes should limit cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day.

* Eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids, including fish (such as wild salmon and lake trout), flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and kale. Research shows that the biggest cholesterol-lowering benefit comes with eating fish.

* Eat more dietary fiber, especially in the form of dried beans, oat bran, barley, eggplant, apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus. These foods contain soluble fiber, which has been found to lower LDL cholesterol. Adults should eat 20-35 grams of fiber per day.

* Engage in 30 - 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least five days a week, preferably every day. This amount of exercise has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Make sure you discuss your plan with your doctor. If you are at high risk for heart disease, your doctor may recommend an approach such as combining lifestyle changes with medication to improve your cholesterol more quickly.

 
Sources

The Mayo Clinic - Top 5 lifestyle choices to reduce cholesterol
Harvard Health Publications - 11 foods that lower cholesterol
American Heart Association - How can I lower high cholesterol?

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.