You’ve probably been told that cholesterol is bad for you, but in reality, the situation is a little more complex. Our bodies have two types of cholesterol: LDL, or bad cholesterol, and HDL, or good cholesterol. LDL is linked to cardiovascular health issues, but HDL can actually help remove LDL. Too much LDL also usually correlates with not enough HDL. High LDL levels are a serious issue, but some lifestyle choices can help prevent and counteract high cholesterol. Here are a few to try.
Opting for a plant-based diet
Generally, people who follow a plant-based diet have lower cholesterol than those who consume meat, dairy, eggs, or fish. Vegan study participants often have lower cholesterol and healthier body weights, plus, those who opt for plant-based proteins, rather than red meat, have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Consume soluble fiber
Soluble fiber, also more commonly found in plant-based diets, slows the production of cholesterol in the liver. Some foods that are high in soluble fiber include avocados, bananas, lentils, and berries.
Embrace “good fats”
While we don’t subscribe to labeling foods as inherently “good” or “bad,” “good fats” refer to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are found in foods like avocados, olive oil, and tree nuts. These fats both increase HDL levels and reduce LDL levels.
This one is a no-brainer. Regular exercise raises HDL levels to in turn reduce LDL. Plus, it has a whole host of other health benefits for the entire body.
Avoid trans fats
Trans fats reduce HDL cholesterol and raise your levels of LDL. They are big contributors to high cholesterol and poor cardiovascular health. A good rule of thumb is to avoid fried foods and read labels to avoid ingredients like hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.
These natural methods are good health recommendations for all of us, but if you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it’s important to follow physicians’ instructions and consult a doctor before making any severe dietary changes. For those with diagnosed high cholesterol, medical treatment methods are often prescribed in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle changes.