If you have high cholesterol, you may be wondering if losing weight will lower your levels. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Healthy weight loss is a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and physical activity. These changes will help you improve your cholesterol levels, and they can also boost the cholesterol-lowering power of medications.
If you want to reduce your cholesterol, you’ll need to get some sort of regular exercise. Whether it’s a jog on the treadmill or an easy walk around the neighborhood, it can make all the difference in terms of your heart health.
If running is too much of a pain or you aren’t able to go for a run because of an injury, you might consider trying swimming instead. This type of exercise is great for your cardiovascular health and can help you lose weight, too!
The good news is that there are lots of other forms of exercise that can also be effective for lowering your cholesterol levels. You can do anything from walking to cycling to jogging, and all are proven to improve your cholesterol levels.
In fact, some research shows that a simple walk around the block may be better for your heart health than an hour of running. The reason? The calorie burn is the same, but it takes longer to walk off the calories than it does to run them off.
One way that exercising can indirectly benefit your cholesterol is by helping you feel more satisfied with your food. When you are more satisfied with your food, you’ll have less of an appetite, which can help you control how much you eat.
Another way that exercise can indirectly benefit your cholesterol is by increasing the amount of HDL good cholesterol in your bloodstream. This is the good cholesterol that protects your arteries from plaque buildup and heart disease.
A recent study in the Journal of Obesity found that people who walked, ran or jogged along with a low-fat diet saw significant improvements in their cholesterol levels. This was because the workouts increased the size of protein particles that prevent LDL cholesterol from clogging your arteries.
You can also try a variety of strength-training exercises like weightlifting, squats, lunges and other forms of resistance training. These types of exercises can be done at home, or even at a gym.
If you aren’t sure where to start, your doctor or a personal trainer will be able to recommend an exercise routine that’s right for you. The important thing is to get in some form of regular exercise for a few weeks and then monitor your cholesterol levels to see what happens.
Eat a Low-Fat Diet
You can help to lower your cholesterol by eating a healthy diet that is low in fat. This diet should contain a variety of foods from the different food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
Many dietary guidelines recommend replacing saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats help reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. They also help to decrease your blood pressure and improve your heart health.
Some diets even encourage you to cook with a low-fat cooking oil, like olive oil or canola oil. These oils are naturally low in fat, and they can be used in place of other oils that have a high amount of saturated or trans fats.
The American Heart Association recommends that people who are trying to lower their cholesterol avoid red meat and foods containing saturated or trans fats. Saturated fats are found in red meat, cheese, butter, and fatty cuts of pork or beef. Limit these foods to no more than 6% of your daily calories.
A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can increase important compounds that lower cholesterol, called plant stanols or sterols. These substances act much like soluble fiber and help to keep cholesterol levels down by absorbing the fatty acids in foods.
Moreover, eating a diet rich in fiber can reduce your risk of heart disease by improving the health of your arteries. You can include a wide variety of soluble fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal, barley, and psyllium.
You should also consume protein from a variety of sources, especially meats, seafood, poultry, and eggs. Eating protein helps you feel full longer, which can lead to less snacking between meals and a healthier weight.
You can find a range of low-fat alternatives to foods high in fat in most grocery stores, and many restaurants offer lower-fat menu options. For example, a chicken breast with a side salad is a healthy and satisfying meal that you can enjoy while following a low-fat diet plan.
Avoid Sugary Beverages
Drinking sugary beverages is a big contributor to our high-calorie diet. These drinks are found in the workplace, schools and college cafeterias, and retail stores, and can easily add up to a large number of calories.
It’s important to avoid adding extra sugar to your diet because it can increase your risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy choices to keep your sugar levels in check without sacrificing flavor.
Choose low-sugar fruit juice or a glass of water instead. Often, these are more refreshing than soda or coffee and won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly.
If you want to enjoy a soda, try root beer or apple juice, which have less sugar than regular soft drinks. Be sure to check the ingredients on the label to ensure you’re not getting a sneaky dose of added sugars.
One 12-ounce can of root beer contains 39 grams of sugar, while the same size bottle of apple juice has 24 to nearly 40 grams of added sugars. It’s also easy to get a little extra sweetness by adding vanilla ice cream, which has another 32 grams of sugar in a single serving.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of all sugars, including added sugars and table sugar. This means consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men per day.
You’ll also need to limit your calorie intake as well. Unlike foods with real sugar, the calories in sugary drinks don’t make you feel full, which is why they can contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A new study finds that middle-aged and older adults who regularly drank sugary beverages were more likely to have abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who rarely drank these drinks. The research suggests that reducing your intake of these sugary beverages can help you lower your cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
Manage Your Calories
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or improve your heart health, it’s important to keep an eye on what you eat. The right kind of food will help you reach your goals and maintain a healthier weight.
You may need to get creative when it comes to portion control, but the key is to eat fewer calories without feeling hungry or deprived. A simple rule of thumb is to eat half your plate of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of that with a whole-grain starch and a quarter of that with lean protein.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need, especially those that promote heart health. These can be found in dark leafy greens, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
One way to do this is to get some form of daily vitamin C, as it helps lower cholesterol and prevents free radical damage. You can also add a daily serving of antioxidant-rich foods, like blueberries and grapes, to your diet.
It’s important to remember that a calorie-restricted diet is only effective if you can stick to it. It’s also a good idea to speak with a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can take into account your specific situation to ensure you are on the right track for success. The best way to do this is to set realistic goals and to stick with them.