High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. You can reduce cholesterol with medications, but often these medications have side effects. Therefore, I recommend the following five lifestyle changes to reduce your cholesterol.
1. Lose Weight. Extra pounds contribute to high cholesterol. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help reduce your cholesterol.
2. Eat a heart-healthy diet. Lower your fat intake and choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, found in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “lousy” cholesterol. Choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats (found in olive, peanut and canola oils) for a healthier option. Eliminate trans fats. Trans fat can be found in fried foods and many commercial baked products, such as cookies, crackers, snack cakes, etc. Don’t rely on package labels because if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it can be labeled “trans fat-free.” Another clue that a food has trans fat in it is if the food contains partially hydrogenated oil. Limit the cholesterol in your food. Use lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes and skim milk. Eat whole grains. Choose whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour, brown rice, etc. Read the labels for whole grains. Eat fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some types of fish — such as salmon, mackerel and herring — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds. Keep in mind walnuts and almonds are also high in calories.
3. Exercise every day. Whether you’re overweight or not, exercise can reduce cholesterol. Physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “happy” cholesterol. With your doctor’s approval, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy, join an exercise group, or hire a certified personal trainer.
4. Quit smoking. Quitting may improve your HDL cholesterol level.
5. Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
For more information about lowering your cholesterol with dietary changes, talk to a registered dietician. For information about exercise, talk to a certified personal trainer about a good program for you.
If you are interested in fitness classes, below are some suggestions:
1. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Athens Senior Center at 8:30 a.m.
2. Every Tuesday and Thursday at Round Island Baptist Church at 10a.m.
3. Every Tuesday and Thursday at Rogersville United Methodist Church at 8:30 a.m.
4. Local fitness centers and wellness center
For more information regarding classes in the Athens area, call Janet at 256-614-3530 or visit Janet’s Fitness on Facebook.
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment
By: Janet Hunt