Lifestyle modifications essential for management of high cholesterol are very important (no less important than cholesterol lowering medications) and they include shedding pounds (reducing body weight), eating heart-healthy diet, regular physical exercise and quitting smoking. If one can manage to do all these lifestyle changes sincerely, it is not difficult to reduce high cholesterol.
Shed extra pounds:
Obesity is an important causative and risk factor for high cholesterol. Hence, shedding of even 5 to 10 pounds can give noticeable result in cholesterol level. Examine honestly what you eat and how much physical exercise you do daily and adjust accordingly to lose weight. Consult expert in weight loss and do not go for weight loss products that are easily available, which may be working for some, but for majority they do not work.
Minimum 30 minutes moderate exercise daily for at least 5 days a week is recommended. Brisk walking is a good choice for exercise. One can also do swimming, cycling, playing that need good physical exercise.
Eat heart-healthy diet:
Eating proper diet is the most important aspect of control of high cholesterol, because, what you eat directly impact cholesterol level in blood. Diet rich in fiber and other nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants etc.) can lower cholesterol as much as cholesterol lowering medications such as statins. Following measures in diet can help lower high cholesterol:
- Limit dietary cholesterol: cholesterol is present in many foods such as organ meats, red meat, egg yolks and whole milk. Reduce intake of these foods. Aim should be to keep cholesterol consumption to less than 300 mg a day and if you have heart disease risk to less than 200 mg/day.
- Remove trans fat from your diet: trans fats are commonly found in margarine and commercially baked cookies, crackers and snack cakes. They are bad for cholesterol and can increase cholesterol (LDL) in blood. And lower good cholesterol HDL.
- Consume healthier fats: consume foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which are good. Nuts (peanuts, cashew nuts, wall nuts, almonds etc.) contain good amount of unsaturated fatty acids.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables: this is very important aspect of dietary change. Avoiding trans fat, cholesterol etc. are important and more important is to consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which have cholesterol lowering effect. Eat seasonal fruits and fresh salad.
- Eat whole grains: make it a habit of adding whole grain in your diet (staple diet). Eat foods made of whole grain flour.
- Eat fish: fish is good for heart and high cholesterol problem. Fish contain lots of unsaturated fats.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if you like drinks. If you can totally avoid alcohol that is also good.
This is another important aspect of managing high cholesterol. Quitting smoking improves HDL and reduces heart disease risk.