If you have had your cholesterol tested and it is quite high, you might be worried about your health and your future. You know that having high cholesterol will cause a build-up of plaque in your arteries over time and that this will increase your likelihood of a heart attack or a stroke. You want to live a life that is as long and healthy as possible, so what can you do to decrease your high cholesterol levels?
There are a few lifestyle changes that you can make which will lower your cholesterol and ensure that you live a longer and healthier life. One of the major changes that you can make is to improve your diet. In fact, many studies have shown that you can improve your cholesterol by as much as 10-20% simply by changing what you eat. A diet that promotes healthy cholesterol will be high in healthy fast, such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils and will be low in trans fats such as packaged baked goods and red meat.
It’s difficult to give your entire diet an overhaul in one day, so give yourself time to adjust to a new healthier way to eating. For each of the unhealthy items that you often eat, find a healthier, cholesterol reducing alternative. You can make these small switches in your diet and eventually, you can start to get used to your new habits.
Here are a few ideas for small changes that you can make to your diet in order to lower your cholesterol:
Swap Butter for Flora
Did you know that 100 grams of butter contains more than 215mg of cholesterol? If you use butter regularly in baking and on your toast in the morning, why not make a simple switch to a spread such as Flora pro-activ? The range of Flora proactiv products are made with plant sterols, which are an active ingredient that is clinically proven to lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet. Studies have shown that planet sterols can reduce cholesterol levels by 7-10% over three weeks. You can use this spread on bread, baked potatoes and anywhere else that you would normally use butter.
Swap White Bread for Wholemeal
When you are making your sandwiches or toast in the morning, make a simple switch from white bread to whole grain bread. When you eat wholemeal bread instead of white, you will add more fibre to your diet. This helps to reduce your cholesterol because the fibre will bind to the cholesterol and remove it from your body as waste. This is an easy change to make and it won’t take you long to get used to the heartier, richer and nuttier taste of delicious whole grain bread.
Swap Crisps for Nuts
If you are hungry between meals and you want a crunchy snack, try eating nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts or pecans rather than a packet of crisps. The crisps are full of salt and trans fat, but unsalted nuts are a very healthy snack.
It is thought that nuts lower your cholesterol because they contain monounsaturated fats that will protect your blood vessels from damage, as well as plant sterols. Nuts also contain plenty of vitamin E and fibre. When you have nuts for a snack, they are also very filling so they will stop you from snacking on other unhealthy food later.
Swap Steak for Salmon
Cuts of fatty red meat contain saturated fats, which will raise your total cholesterol and your low-density lipoprotein. Reducing your intake of these foods will help to improve your cholesterol. Instead of cooking up a steak for that romantic dinner, why not try a nice fillet of salmon instead? Fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and will help to lower your LDL cholesterol.
These are just a few of the simple switches that you can make in your diet in order to improve your cholesterol. Over time, your improved habits will lead to a lowering of your cholesterol levels, which will decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Paul Simmons is a health buff, fitness guru and father of two. He shares tips on living healthy and spends his free time running with his dog Max.