Making simple lifestyle and food changes is a great way to lower your cholesterol. What are you waiting for? By Lucy Canning.
1. Think fibre, fibre, fibre!
This important food component is a great help when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Some fibres are better than others – such as water-soluble options like oat bran, psyllium seeds, guar gum or pectin. These form a gel that binds bile and cholesterol in the gut to allow for excretion as part of your bowel motions. They have also been found to decrease the bad (LDL) cholesterol and improve the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.
2. Go fish
To reduce the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends that Australian adults consume about 500 milligrams of omega-3 (marine source) every day. You can achieve this by eating a combination of two to three 150 gram serves of oily fish every week and by supplementing your intake with fish oil supplements (capsules or oil) and omega-3 enriched food and drinks.
3. No, sweetie
Few people realise that eating sugar promotes the production of cholesterol in the body. Sugar intake is out of control in the average person's diet to the point that many people are no longer able to identify more subtle degrees of sweetness. Sugar is also addictive. If you eliminate sugar from your diet for a while, you'll find that simple foods such as carrots and grains actually taste sweet. If you then try to introduce highly-sweet foods or drinks such as soft drink into your diet , you will often find that you can no longer stand how sweet they are.
4. Kick caffeine
Sadly for caffeine addicts, there's a Link between cholesterol levels and the consumption of coffee – particularly if you're hardcore and drink around six cups per day. For good health, coffee should be kept out of the diet altogether or at levels of one to two per day.
5. The happy hour hazard
Alcohol is known to elevate cholesterol levels so it's best to steer clear.
6. Get moving
There's a direct correlation between a person's level of physical activity and their cholesterol levels. Exercise has been shown to decrease total cholesterol while improving good HDL cholesterol.
7. Eat more plant sterols
To lower LDL-cholesterol the Heart Foundation recommends adults consume 2 to 3 grams of plant sterols per day from plant sterol enriched foods. As a guide, one serve of plant sterol enriched foods is approximately: 10 grams of margarine spread (about 2 teaspoons; 45 grams of cereal (about 1 cup or two breakfast biscuits); 250 millilitres low-fat milk (about 1 cup); 200 grams of reduced-fat yoghurt (1 small tub)
8. Stomp out stress
The Link between stress and the production of cholesterol is well-established, so take time to relax. Regular relaxation will help to keep your stress levels under control. Some suggestions include meditation, relaxation CDs, exercise, yoga, reading or getting your worries down on paper.