I’m just going to come out and say it… There’s no substitute for a good diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. I say this because in our fast-paced modern world we’ve developed something of a quick-fix mentality, we’ve become obsessed with short cuts. In a world of fad diets and “miracle” weight loss pills, a multi-million dollar industry has grown out of our desire to circumvent our obligation to keep our bodies fit and healthy by throwing money at pre-packaged “solutions”. Sorry folks, but while science has brought us many wonderful ways to enrich our diet with supplements, and international haulage has made it easier than ever for us to enjoy delicious fruits and vegetables from all over the world… Good health is not something we can just pick up off a supermarket shelf.
That said, low cholesterol is still far more easily than most people think. It’s simply a matter of eating the right foods, avoiding the wrong foods, and keeping your heart healthy with regular cardiovascular exercise.
There’s no shame in supplements
Generally, I don’t recommend miracle weight loss pills or pharmaceutical weight loss solutions like Olestra (unless you want to have oil seeping out of your butt- seriously, that happens!). However, there’s a universe of differences between weight loss pills and supplements. Intensive farming techniques and genetic modification mean that the food that we buy and consume tends to be less nutrient-rich. While you can make up for this somewhat by buying organic, it’s not always cost-effective. Supplements are a great way of enhancing the effectiveness of a healthy diet and there are natural supplements on the market to help you lower your cholesterol. Check out cholesloreview.com for more information, and remember that these supplements are intended to assist in a healthy diet, not supplant it in the same way that flossing or using mouthwash isn’t a substitute for brushing your teeth.
Knowing the dangers
It’s vitally important to understand the dangers of high cholesterol. While the term may be familiar to many of us, we’re not all aware that cholesterol could be a matter of life or death. High cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart attacks as well as peripheral artery conditions like strokes and angina.
Cholesterol in the blood causes plaque buildup within the arteries. Yup, that’s right, the stuff your dentist warned you about is building up in your arteries as well. Over time this decreases blood flow and impairs the function of the cells and organs that your blood needs to keep supplied with oxygen. High cholesterol also affects your digestive system. It can create an imbalance of bile leading to potentially agonizing gallstones. In extreme cases, the lack of blood flow to the extremities can even lead to tissue death (gangrene). Horrible!
The good news is that as terrible as these symptoms are they are the result of years of negligence and we can reverse the damage we do by paying close attention to what we eat.
Foods to approach with caution
The most obvious culprits are processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats. While many of us are aware of the risks presented by a diet packed with processed convenience foods, many of us are unaware of just how ubiquitous saturated fats are. They lurk in all manner of go-to foods from pepperoni to snack cakes.
Even some vaunted health foods should be treated with caution. A great many manufacturers lean heavily on how their products raise HDL or “good cholesterol”, little mentioning that they can also raise HDL or “bad cholesterol”. While nobody’s expecting you to omit these foods from your diet forever, they should be used in moderation or enjoyed as an occasional treat.
- Lard, and goose fat
- Fatty meat products such as sausages, bacon, and processed meats like pepperoni.
- Full fat cheeses, milk, cream, and yogurt
- Coconut oil
- Coconut milk and cream
- Palm oil
Just because you’ve reduced your consumption of these foods, though, doesn’t mean that you’re limited to munching on kale for the rest of your life. While green veggies are amazing for general good health there are a great many wonderful foods to enjoy while lowering your cholesterol.
Eat your way to lower cholesterol
Although foods rich in saturated fats are way too easy to come by, delicious foods that actively lower your cholesterol are also inexpensive and easy to find. Veggies or vegans may have the inside track here. In the absence of meat, dairy, and fish; many of the foods that they already consume regularly for their healthy fats, protein, and fiber, as well as soy-based dairy alternatives are proven to battle high cholesterol. You can enjoy these foods safely in the knowledge that they’re helping you to reduce your cholesterol:
- Oats and oatmeal (still the breakfast of champions)
- Barley and other whole grains
- Eggplant and okra
- Vegetable oils
- Citrus fruits
Stick to these foods and cut down on the saturated fats, and you’ll be well on your way to low cholesterol and good health. But as we know, while a good diet is crucial to good health, it’s also important to supplement it with regular exercise.
Exercises to keep your heart healthy
While it’s absolutely true that any exercise is better than no exercise, some exercises are better for your heart’s health than others. Maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system is vital in combating the symptoms of high cholesterol. Cardiovascular activity like running, jogging, cycling or using a step or rowing machine at the gym is all good but weights enthusiasts will be delighted to know that lifting can also improve your heart health.
When lifting weights, it’s important to remember that compound exercises (which use more than one muscle group at a time) give your heart a better workout. Squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench presses and bent over rows are great examples of these.
Interval training (short bursts of high-intensity exercise between ‘cool downs’ of low-intensity exercise are unparalleled in their ability to burn fat and give your cardiovascular / respiratory system a great workout.