Keeping an eye on your cholesterol levels is important to your overall health. This is because too much cholesterol may contribute to the development of heart disease and high blood pressure.
A few easy lifestyle changes can be the key to lowering your cholesterol naturally. Cholesterol-lowering lifestyle changes include a healthy diet and becoming more active.
High-cholesterol foods to avoid
When trying to avoid high cholesterol foods, the nutrition labels on packaged food are helpful. Take time to read them and avoid picking up foods that contain trans fats and saturated fats. Trans fats might also be called hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
You can find trans fats in pre-made foods like baked goods. Non-dairy creamer, fried food and microwave popcorn can also contain loads of trans fats. These fats also appear in foods you might buy to use as ingredients in your favorite recipes. Ingredients that can contain trans fats include refrigerated doughs and margarine.
Low-cholesterol foods to try
Lowering cholesterol naturally isn’t just about what you can’t have. There are plenty of tasty foods you can enjoy while following a lower-cholesterol diet.
Choose lean protein sources when planning meals. These include seafood, legumes and chicken. Low-fat dairy products can add some protein as well as calcium to your low-cholesterol diet.
Be generous with high-fiber foods in your diet. Enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables. Foods that contain whole grains, oatmeal and beans are tasty and rich in fiber. Replace saturated fats and trans fats with unsaturated fats. These are the fats that come from avocados, nuts and vegetables, including olive oil.
The importance of exercise
Need another option for how to lower cholesterol naturally without medication? Increase your activity level. Being more physically active can help you maintain a healthy body weight and control your blood pressure in addition to lowering your cholesterol.
Aim for at least two and a half hours of moderately intense exercise each week. Choose activities you enjoy so the time you spend exercising is fun. You can choose the type of exercise that’s most appealing to you.
Additionally, you can start slow if you don’t feel ready for intense exercise. Park away from buildings so you get in extra steps just going to the grocery store or hairdresser. Choose the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Or set up an exercise bike in front of the TV and ride while enjoying your favorite programs.
How long does it take to lower cholesterol naturally?
It can take several months for cholesterol to lower naturally.
If you have high cholesterol, make sure you and your primary care provider agree on the best approach for you. They might suggest you take cholesterol-lowering medication, especially if you have:
- Cardiovascular disease, also called CVD or heart disease
- Extremely high LDL cholesterol levels
- Familial hypercholesterolemia, also called FH
- Type 2 diabetes