When you were young, chances are, cholesterol was the last thing on your mind. You may have seen your cholesterol numbers on your blood work results, but unless there was a cause for concern, your doctor might have never discussed your cholesterol levels with you. But as you get older, there are more and more reasons to mind your cholesterol. Even if you consider yourself health conscious, your levels may be unexpectedly high. You see, age is a major factor contributing to elevated blood cholesterol. Once you pass the age of 45 (if you’re a man) or 55 (if you’re a woman), you may run into a cholesterol problem.
But don’t worry—high cholesterol is a manageable condition. There’s a lot you can do to stay healthy and keep your cholesterol under control. You have surely heard about the Mediterranean diet as an ultimate eating style for cholesterol management, along with the importance of banishing sugars and trans-fats from your menu. Here are a few other tips you can add to your roster of remedies to ensure you make every effort to succeed in your cholesterol-lowering undertaking.
Simple ways to curb cholesterol
Count calories: If you’re serious about your cholesterol, you need to get serious about your caloric intake too. When you have no clue how many calories you consume, it’s easy to overindulge, which means you put on weight and raise your LDL cholesterol (the bad one). You don’t need to go to an extreme—a weekly calorie count should give you a good idea where you stand. If you notice you’re exceeding your limit, try monitoring your daily intake to see where the problem is and how you can adjust your eating habits. Once you get your caloric intake under control, you can easily shed some weight. Studies have shown that a 5 percent loss of body weight significantly improved cholesterol levels. (Cholesterol-lowering drugs can be doing more harm than good.)
Take a plunge: Or go for a jog, if you’re not in the business of swimming. Whenever you’re doing something active that gets you breathing (that’s aerobic exercise), you’re doing your cholesterol levels a big favor. At-risk patients particularly benefit from daily sessions, studies show.
Add some color: Next time you go grocery shopping, get as many colorful veggies as possible. Green, red, orange, yellow—fill your fridge and your plate with color and give your body loads of nutrients. Bright vegetables like beets, carrots, and spinach contain powerful compounds that prevent cholesterol buildup in your blood vessels.
Eat your porridge: A bowl of oats for breakfast may not be as exciting as a pan of fried bacon, but it will definitely do your levels good. Porridge is a great source of soluble fiber that binds to your dietary cholesterol and passes it through your intestines. Bonus perk: this “breakfast of champions” will fuel you with energy up until lunch. (A heart attack can happen suddenly without any symptoms.)
Smile: High cholesterol is no laughing matter, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t smile. On the contrary, a positive attitude could be your secret weapon against stress, the hidden factor bringing those levels up. If you’re leading a heathy lifestyle but your numbers are still high, stress may be the culprit. So, pull up your socks and get that smile going—your body (and people around you) will appreciate it!
With all that said, you are now ready to take control of your numbers. It may require some counting, some heavy breathing, and some smiling, but at the end of the day, it’s well worth the effort.
Related: Is high cholesterol hereditary? Familial hypercholesterolemia symptoms and treatments