Your Checklist to Lower Cholesterolby Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional
Here's a checklist of the top steps you must take if you want to successfully lower your cholesterol and keep it low.
Know your numbers
Have you had a lipid profile? Do you understand the numbers? If you are going to successfully lower cholesterol you need to know your numbers and what they mean. The most effective way to raise HDL is not necessarily the best way to lower LDL.
Evaluate your lifestyle
There are risk factors for high cholesterol that you cannot control, such as age, gender, and family history, but there are factors you can control. For example, you can reduce risk by not smoking, increasing your activity, and losing extra weight.
Balance your fats
Reduce unhealthy saturated fats in your diet and replace them with heart healthy unsaturated fats. Total fat intake should be 30% or less of your total daily calories. Out of this 30%, saturated fat should be limited to 7%.
Physical activity lowers triglycerides and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. Shoot for 30 minutes 5 or more days a week. If you are not currently active, check with your MD before beginning an activity program.
Eliminate trans fats
You need to be food label savvy and watch out for trans fats. Trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and raise triglycerides. Limit trans fats to 1% or less of your daily caloric intake.
Triglycerides are impacted the most by your simple sugar and alcohol intake. If you are struggling with high triglycerides, you need to take a different approach to get your cholesterol under control.
Increase dietary fiber
A high fiber diet is necessary for heart health. You need 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily, especially soluble fiber. For every 1-2 grams of daily soluble fiber intake, LDL (bad) cholesterol is lowered 1%.
Add omega 3 fatty acids
For heart health and lower cholesterol, you want to improve the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are involved in the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting.