Lifestyle habits, such as eating cholesterol-lowering foods and exercising regularly, can help lower cholesterol naturally. While not all cases of high cholesterol can be managed through lifestyle changes, these simple choices can pave the way to a heart-healthy future. Here's how to move your cholesterol in the right direction.
Live an Active Lifestyle
A lack of exercise is often correlated with abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. To lower cholesterol, make the following heart-healthy changes:
Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can increase HDL levels-that's the good cholesterol.
Switch sedentary activities for active lifestyle habits. For example, instead of vegging out on the couch every day, go for a short bike ride around the neighborhood. Walk to the store instead of using your car. On Friday nights, try a dance night instead of a movie night. Regardless of what you do, make sure that staying active is at the top of your agenda.
Find creative ways to get fit. Running on the treadmill isn't the only way to get fit-lifting weights, dancing or even playing exercise video games can also help manage your cholesterol.
Participate in active extracurricular activities. Exercise doesn't always have to be boring-joining a baseball league, doing a walkathon for charity or playing tennis with friends are all excellent ways to stay active.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Along with exercise, a heart-healthy diet can help reduce cholesterol naturally by lowering LDL levels-that's the bad cholesterol. In years past, doctors advised people to avoid fat and cholesterol-containing foods, but now know that isn't an optimal strategy for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Here's what doctors recommend now:
At least 10 grams of soluble fiber daily. This type of fiber, which is commonly found in whole wheat products and fibrous vegetables, can help lower LDL levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include most beans, eggplant, okra and oats.
Switch out junk food for nuts. Nuts contain a type of fat that supports healthy cholesterol levels, making it a smart heart-healthy choice for people of all ages. Good nuts to snack on include peanuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds.
Get strong with soy. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, heart-healthy diets that contained soy protein helped lower LDL cholesterol 13 percent more when compared to traditional low-fat diets. To lower cholesterol naturally, consider switching out red meat for tofu, soy burgers or a handful of soybeans.
Switch out butter for cholesterol-lowering substitutes. Margarine such as Take Control or Benecol contains plant sterols, which may help promote healthy cholesterol levels.
Other Heart-Healthy Tips
To lower cholesterol naturally, exercising regularly and eating a heart-healthy diet can help, but you can also use other lifestyle measures to get healthy. If you're overweight, consider losing weight. If you smoke or drink excessively, consider dropping the habit: Both lifestyle habits have been correlated with abnormal cholesterol levels.
Whatever you do, make sure to make it a consistent habit-these changes must become consistent, daily habits if you want to lower cholesterol naturally.