Good nutrition is one of your first lines of defense. Following a heart-healthy Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and use of olive oil is good not only for your cholesterol, but also your overall health. There are also some specific do’s and don’ts when it comes to the food-fight against high cholesterol.
Foods That Lower Cholesterol
Soluble fiber: Apples, prunes, beans, oatmeal and other high-fiber foods help prevent cholesterol absorption.
- Nuts: Most types of nuts contain sterols that, like fiber, help you avoid absorbing cholesterol.
- Spices: Although healthy spices like garlic, ginger, curcumin, black pepper, coriander and cinnamon do not directly lower cholesterol, they are a great way to spice up your diet in ways that avoid sugar and salt.
- Fish: Eating cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, etc two to four times per week is a better option compared to red meat. However, avoid deep fried fish which just raises cholesterol.
- Olive oil: Replacing butter with extra-virgin olive oil gives you “good” fats and more anti-oxidants.
High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid
- Trans fats found in fried food and fast food
- Highly processed food high in sugar and other preservatives
- Saturated fats in red meat and many dairy products
Ways to Lower Cholesterol
Most of the things that are good for your blood pressure, blood sugar, and your heart are also good for your cholesterol. Along with improving your diet, it’s important to get plenty of exercise, which can improve your HDL and LDL levels. Losing weight also helps lower cholesterol.
If you’re a smoker, quit as soon as you can. Smoking causes damage to the arteries, which become "sticky" and LDL accumulation increases atherosclerosis, which isn’t a good combination.
Lifestyle changes are the single best treatment for high cholesterol. But if that isn’t enough, your doctor may recommend a medication or other measures to lower your cholesterol. There are several options that can be very effective. Any medication you take will be closely monitored by your doctor on a regular basis to make sure it’s working for you.