Easy Swaps To Help Lower Your Cholesterol

Easy Swaps To Help Lower Your Cholesterol

We all know that having high cholesterol is bad. But what is high cholesterol? And what can we do to avoid it? We trawled through the information to find the easiest and most effective changes that actually will have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels.


High cholesterol clogs up the arteries, slows down respiration and can lead to high blood pressure and even heart disease. However, the truth is that lowering cholesterol levels can feel like an uphill struggle – not least because there is so much conflicting advice out there.

For example, at one point we were told not to eat butter but to substitute margarine instead – that message has now been reversed. It’s downright confusing and can make us feel despondent about even trying to do what’s right. Follow these simple guidelines to find your way through the maze.

Eat smart

Learn how to read nutrition labels and get to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats – saturated and trans fats are the ones to steer clear of – to help follow a low-cholesterol diet. Focus on eating more fruit and vegetables, too. They’re a great source of fiber, which helps fill you up, control your weight and, most importantly, has been shown to help lower high cholesterol. The goal is at least five servings a day, and the ideal balance is three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit. And don't forget about beans – the soluble fiber they contain is actually more effective for lowering bad cholesterol than the insoluble fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Finally, eat more oily fish: fillets of tuna and salmon are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides (unsaturated fat) in the blood and heart.

Minimize stress

In addition to affecting you emotionally, stress has been shown to raise blood pressure and contribute to coronary heart disease. Start by identifying your biggest sources of stress. Not enough help around the house from the rest of the family? Boss sending you emails after 6 p.m.? Then do all you can to find ways to ease those stressors: deep breathing, meditation and exercise are all tried-and-true, heart-healthy stress reducers.

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Weigh in

Controlling your weight is an important part of controlling your cholesterol levels, so it’s crucial to work on losing any excess pounds. A good way to go about this is by monitoring your portion sizes and adjusting as needed – a portion of starchy carbohydrates, such as potato or pasta, should only be about half the size of a tennis ball. A heart-healthy portion of meat should be about the size of a deck of playing cards. Fill in the gaps with lots of vegetables and fruit.

Get moving

If you’re watching your cholesterol levels, remember that regular exercise strengthens your heart and protects you from heart disease. If you’re not a big fan of exercise, or aren’t currently in great shape, the good news is that as little as 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace every day is enough to reap real benefits.

Laugh it off

A good laugh helps increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as ‘good cholesterol’ because it helps your body get rid of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which clogs up arteries. Add some comic relief to your life by checking out silly animal or baby videos online, signing up for a joke-a-day email, or relaxing with your favorite funny film or TV program.

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