Dr. Hilary's Lifestyle Tips To Reduce Cholesterol
- Cholesterol-lowering foods: Follow a high-fibre diet comprised of vegetables, fruits, fish, lean poultry, legumes, whole grains, nuts and olive oil7.
Foods to avoid
- Trans fats: These human-made fats are not naturally occurring and are harmful to the body. They are found in many packaged and fried foods and are the biggest culprit for increasing bad cholesterol and decreasing good cholesterol. Trans fats should be completely avoided in the diet.
- Saturated fats: These are naturally occurring fats that are healthy at low levels but contribute to high cholesterol when eaten in high amounts. They are found in foods like red meat, dairy, coconut, avocado, and nuts. Try to keep saturated fats to a maximum of 6% of your daily calories, which would be about 13g per day for a standard 2000kcal diet8.
- Sugars: Studies show that a higher intake of added sugar is associated with increased total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease9. We should keep sugar in the diet as low as possible, with 25g being our daily maximum. Reading nutrition labels and avoiding sugary beverages and snacks is the best way to minimize sugar intake.
- Foods containing cholesterol can be eaten in moderate amounts. Eggs, for example, are a healthy source of nutrients and protein, and it is recommended that we eat a maximum of 7 eggs weekly to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Regular exercise and a healthy diet are important to maintaining a healthy weight, which is directly correlated with improving cholesterol levels.
- Physical activity: Moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week is the best type of exercise for improving HDL “good” cholesterol and reducing total and LDL “bad” and cholesterol levels10.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor the development of heart disease, and when combined with high cholesterol it presents an even greater risk for heart disease than either risk factor alone11.
- Lab testing: A cholesterol panel should be monitored as part of your annual lab work, with a baseline level established as early as 18 years of age.
At ideal levels, cholesterol allows our body to function in a healthy way. However, many diets contain far too many foods that increase our cholesterol levels above what our bodies can use. Excess cholesterol can build up in our blood vessels, blocking oxygen from reaching our organs and causing damage to the body.