Learn how to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.
Too much unhealthy cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. It can also increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. But not all cholesterol is created equally.
Cholesterol is tricky because there are two different types – "good" and "bad." Bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, turns into thick plaques that can clog up the arteries – ultimately increasing your chance of developing heart disease. Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoproteins, help remove the LDL from your arteries. In fact, healthy levels of HDL can actually protect your body from strokes and heart attacks.
Keeping your levels of LDL down is crucial for healthy aging. Consider these five tips for lowering your cholesterol and contributing to a healthier you:
1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in saturated fat, so they'll contribute to keeping those levels low - ultimately reducing your LDL cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables are also loaded with soluble fibers, which naturally lower cholesterol levels as well. Some recommended foods include sweet potato, broccoli, strawberries, apples and prunes.
2. Eliminate trans and saturated fats
According to Harvard Health Publication, trans fats are used by food manufacturers to extend an item's shelf lives. When possible, avoid foods that are high in trans, saturated, or partially hydrogenated fats. Saturated fats, which come from animal products, aren't the best for your heart either. However, eating foods such as eggs, butters, cheeses and meats is okay in moderation.
3. Consume polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
Not all fats are created equal. Unlike trans and saturated fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can actually help lower levels of LDL. You can naturally consume these fats from foods like fish, seeds, nuts, avocados and soybeans. When you're cooking, choose natural oils such as sunflower, olive, grapeseed, canola, safflower and peanut – all of which contain both healthy fatty acids.
4. Stick to whole grains
Not only are whole grains a great source of fiber, but foods like whole-wheat bread and wild rice make a heart-healthy choice over refined flour breads and white rice. To start your day off on the right foot, consider using old-fashioned oats to prepare a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Just make certain to avoid the pre-packaged options – they're loaded with added sugars and most have the beneficial fibers processed out during the cook.
5. Stay physically active
Eating the right foods and eliminating fats from your diet can help lower levels of bad cholesterol, but those aren't your only options. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends regular physical activity. Exercising can raise levels of HDL and help you lose weight, which in turn contributes to lowered LDL levels. This source suggested getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week, but preferably every day. That doesn't mean you have to spend all of your time at the gym – even a simple session of brisk walking counts.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living