We’ve all heard about cholesterol, but did you know that certain conditions increase your risk for high cholesterol?
- Obesity is associated with elevated levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and decreased levels of HDL cholesterol. Additionally, obesity is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- Eating a diet full of saturated and trans fats may contribute to high cholesterol and related health concerns like heart disease.
- Too little physical activity can result in weight gain, in turn leading to high cholesterol levels.
The importance of a healthy diet
Small, healthy changes in diet can be very beneficial. For cholesterol specifically, you could try the following: 2
- Decrease saturated fats
One of the most beneficial changes you can make is limiting the saturated and trans fats you eat.
Saturated fats are found in red meat, butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy products and they raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing the amount of saturated fats in your diet to less than 7 percent of your total daily calorie intake can reduce your LDL cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent.
- Increase high-fiber foods
Most whole grains are great sources of fiber. Oatmeal, for example, contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears. Also be sure to include plenty fresh vegetables and fruits, especially leafy greens like kale and spinach.
- Include fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Fatty fish (like mackerel, herring and salmon) have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your triglycerides. Reducing them can also reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots.
- Try almonds and other nuts
Tree nuts like almonds can improve blood cholesterol. You only need a small portion because nuts are high in calories.
- Use olive oil
Try using olive oil in place of other fats in your diet.
The good news is that practising healthy behaviors can lower your risk for high cholesterol, but it is always best to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider for medical advice specific to your needs.