4 Ways to Really Lower Your Cholesterol – Starting Now

One out of every three Michiganders has high cholesterol—something that can lead to clogged arteries, raising your risk for heart attacks or stroke. That’s pretty scary stuff! If you recently found out you have high cholesterol, you might be confused about why you have it and how to lower it.

There are a lot of reasons you might have high cholesterol—it can come from eating a bad diet (saturated fats are a big factor), being overweight, having a family history or some combination of those things. The good news is that some lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your cholesterol. Try these tips to lower your levels and avoid scary health complications down the road.

  • Eat more fiber. Eating foods with fiber can help to reduce your bad cholesterol. Swapping refined sugars and grains, like white flour, for whole wheat and other whole grains can be a simple way to add fiber to your diet.
  • Cut out trans fats. Avoid any foods that contain the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil.” This is found in a lot of processed foods and means that the food has trans fats—something that raises your bad cholesterol while lowering your good cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk for heart attack and stroke, which is why it’s recommended that you cut them out of your diet completely.
  • Swap out saturated fats for unsaturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends that you cut down saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of your daily calorie intake. Cut down on how much red meat you eat and instead of using butter (which has saturated fat), swap it out for olive oil (a source of unsaturated fat).
  • Exercise most days of the week. We know you’ve heard this tip before, but exercise can help raise your levels of “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol. With approval from your doctor, work up to exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. Don’t be overwhelmed by that number! It can include a brisk walk during lunch or riding a bike to work. For more tips on ways to sneak in exercise and how to freshen up your fitness routine, check out our blogs on aHealthierMichigan.org.

Whenever you are dealing with an issue like high cholesterol, work with your doctor to monitor your cholesterol levels and come up with a plan for healthy eating and exercise.

Photo credit: www.tOrange.biz Valdemar Fishmen

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