Simple ways to lower high cholesterol

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Do you have high cholesterol and need to lower it? That is no surprise considering how many people have high cholesterol these days. To help lower your cholesterol, here are 10 tips you can get started with today. As with anything health related, diet and exercise are the two crucial components. What you eat is critical to lowering your cholesterol levels, so that is what is included here.

One thing you should know is the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol. Simply think of HDL as “healthy or good” cholesterol and LDL as “unhealthy or bad” cholesterol. HDL can actually help carry cholesterol out of your blood vessels while LDL allows it to deposit inside your artery walls. It’s the buildup of cholesterol, fats, inflammatory cells, and other blood components that leads to blockage of arterial vessels in the heart, brain, and elsewhere in the body.

The good news is that you can change your cholesterol for the better. Here is how to do that following some simple tips or steps in your life:

1. Have a nice sandwich on whole wheat bread or a pita with some lean turkey and lots of fresh veggies. Skip the hot dogs, bologna, and salami, and hold the mayonnaise. All of those are highly processed and filled with fat and cholesterol.

2. Fish, like salmon, is good. Look for wild red salmon varieties, which are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids (good fat.) Cold-water fishes like sardines, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, too.  Also, flax seed is a good vegetarian source of Omega-3s.

3. Avoid Trans fats! Not only do they raise the lousy LDL cholesterol, they can also lower your HDL levels! Stay away from foods like margarine, shortening, and processed foods containing partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Any highly processed oil and reused frying oil contain trans fat, so avoid them in your diet.

4. Go ahead, go nuts! Look for walnuts which are rich in healthy fats (monosaturated and polysaturated fats),  but also try almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, and pecans. Nuts are high in fat, but it’s the good kind. (Also, use natural peanut butter instead of the processed peanut butter which contains unhealthy Trans fats.) Unprocessed peanut butter has unmixed layer of oil on top of the nut mixture.

5. Limit desserts to reward yourself once a week and try to eat only the healthier ones like angel food cake, graham crackers, Jell-O, low-fat parfait, low-fat fruity, Greek yogurt, and fat-free frozen yogurt. If you do eat decadent dessert, try to eat small portion slowly to savor and enjoy it instead of gobbling it down.

6. Eat foods that are high in fiber. Examples include whole wheat bread, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, and some cereals. (Look for the boxes that say “may help lower cholesterol.”)

7. Use the grill. If you’re going to have steak or burgers, grill them at home and use lean meat. This practice avoids the grease, is fun, and the meat tastes great. If you are going to frequently grill, it’s healthier to grill over gas grill or pan rather directly over charcoal grill since some studies have shown potential carcinogens present in such smoked grills.

8. Find a new salad dressing. Most of them are full of Trans fats and cholesterol. Olive oil is good, and maybe add vinegar or lemon juice mixed with herbs and seasonings. Also, skip or add very small amounts of the bacon bits, croutons, and egg yolks.

9. Go overboard on fruits and vegetables. They contain no cholesterol and they have lots of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that the body requires on daily basis for optimum function.

Here are some examples: green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, oranges, mangos, papaya, pineapple, tomato, garlic, onions, spinach, kale, water chestnuts, bananas, apricots, blueberries, and kiwi.

10. Avoid fast food like french fries and anything else from the deep fryer. Those foods will raise your cholesterol to high levels in short time if eaten on regular basis, so stay away or limit your visits to fast-food burger and fries places if you can.

11. Bonus tip: Use spices like pepper and oregano to add flavor to your dishes. They are a healthy alternative to other toppings like mayonnaise, creamy, and fat-laden sauces.

That was easy, wasn’t it? Just make some of these changes and get plenty of exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, or playing basketball. You will have lower cholesterol in no time!

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