Cholesterol can build up in the walls of blood vessels, and in order to push blood through clogged vessels, the heart muscle must work harder, which increases blood pressure.
And if your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, it is time to take necessary health measures. In fact, even before such a diagnosis, it would be wise to keep cholesterol levels at a minimum.
How is this achieved? The classic combination of a healthy diet and exercise is the best thing to do, but where should you start?
According to a major analysis cited by Harvard Health, hundreds of men and women have successfully lowered cholesterol levels in controlled trials.
This was achieved through “diet changes,” which is not surprising, but there was an unexpected result. Those who exercised more, but did not change their eating habits, did not benefit from lower cholesterol levels.
This surprising result suggests that the best way to start lowering cholesterol levels is to adjust your diet.
People in the studies followed a variety of diets, from Mediterranean meals to low-fat and low-calorie meals.
However, the most effective diets are those in which foods high in cholesterol have been replaced by healthier alternatives.
“You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach,” said Cathy McManus, Director of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, detailing how to start lowering cholesterol levels.
First, you need to identify all of the trans fats you are eating and make alternatives to them.
What are trans fats?
Trans fats are created by adding hydrogen to liquid fats to help them solidify. It is a popular preservation method as it can extend the shelf life of prepackaged baked goods.
Mayo Clinic lists foods containing trans fats, such as:
• fried chicken.
• fried potato.
McManus advised replacing trans fats with “polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.” This includes cooking with sunflower oil, olives, grape seeds and peanuts.
Instead of pancakes or frozen pizza, choose fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, or mackerel.
Instead of biscuits or muffins, choose seeds or nuts. Avocados and soybeans are also good fats that you can add to your diet.
Fruits and vegetables will be your best options, as they contain elements that effectively help reduce cholesterol.
Another helpful piece of advice is to choose wholegrain options when it comes to pasta, rice and bread. These are great sources of fiber, and they are another great tool to help lower blood cholesterol levels.