Lifestyle choices aside, some folks are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol and all of the meat-avoidance in the world isn’t going to change those numbers.  However, we’d like to offer 9 of our healthy choices that work hand-in-hand with cholesterol reduction prescriptions to keep levels and risk in check. 

1. Exercise

Exercise helps with cholesterol in two ways.  First, it’s a means of weight loss.  Being overweight often spikes the amount of low-density (LDL) present in the bloodstream.  Losing weight reduces that amount.  Second, researchers have recently discovered that exercise increases the size of protein particles.  Those particles also carry cholesterol.  Large protein particles are much less likely to embed themselves into the lining of the heart and blood vessels.

2. Go nuts! 

Nuts contain unsaturated fat that reduces cholesterol.  In particular, walnuts and almonds are especially effective.  Nuts are excellent sources of protein, anti-oxidants, vitamins and nutrients.

3. Increase your fiber intake.

Good sources of fiber are complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread, legumes, fruits and vegetables.  Aim for fiber that is water-soluble such as those found in oats or fruit.

4. Limit your meat consumption. 

When you do consume meat, opt for heart-healthy lean meats such as chicken or turkey breast.  Swap out your steak dinners for options that include fish, whole grains and beans.

5. Get creative with flavor! 

Instead of using fat for flavor, add herbs and spices to your meal.  Experiment with herbs you’ve never used before.  If your recipe requires fat, opt for heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil.

6.  Ahoy, the soy!

25 grams of soy per day may assist in lowering cholesterol naturally.  Choose fresh or dried edamame, soy protein powder, tofu or soy flour.

7. Multi-vitamin insurance

Even the best diet may have some nutritional gaps.  Add a quality multi-vitamin to your daily regimen.  Think of it as “insurance”.  Look for a vitamin with folic acid and at least 400 micrograms of B vitamins.

8. Add a “cuppa” to your diet.

Black and green teas contain catechins, a type of anti-oxidant.  Be mindful that both green and black teas contain caffeine.  If you prefer your tea at night, opt for decaffeinated versions.

9. A little wine?

In moderation, alcohol has been shown to increase HDL levels.  But try as best you can to limit your consumption to one drink per day.

All of the options listed here are facets of a healthy lifestyle but speak with your doctor before making any radical changes.  Depending on your current levels, you may still require the assistance of cholesterol-lowering prescriptions.  If you have high cholesterol, educate yourself about the options available to you.

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