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Managing Cholesterol with Diet and Exercise

There is no panacea for deliberate truancy with your health management. Lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing cholesterol levels well within normal and pave the way to a healthier and happier life. The main lifestyle changes involve a change of dietary choices and a proper and regular physical exercise schedule.

It is a known fact that uncontrolled cholesterol puts you at risk of contacting heart diseases and heart attacks. These lifestyle changes can keep you away from cholesterol reducing medications or else if you are already taking medicine these changes will help you enhance the effect of your medications.

Go for Heart Healthy Foods

You might have followed unhealthy eating habits so far but some informed and slight changes in your food habits will definitely help in bringing down the cholesterol levels in your body.

  • Healthier Fats – Red meat and dairy products contain saturated fats the LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) cholesterol and the total cholesterol level in your body. This is the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Change to eating leaner meats, low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats found in oils like olive oil and canola oil.
  • Avoid Trans Fats – Look out for food packets that say, ‘partially hydrogenated oil used’, it has all possibilities of containing Trans fats. Trans fats also occur in fried foods and all those commercial food products cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats increase ‘bad’ cholesterol and decrease ‘good’ cholesterol thus increasing the risk of heart attacks.
  • Add Omega 3 fatty acids – There are many foods that have omega 3 fatty acids in them and help control the cholesterol levels. These foods do not affect LDL whereas they raise the HDL (High Density Lipoproteins) or ‘good’ cholesterol. They reduce triglycerides, a particular fat in the blood stream. Omega 3 fatty acids occur in fish and especially fishes like salmon and mackerel. They are also found in many nuts like walnuts, almond sand flax seeds.
  • Take more soluble fibres – Fibre in our food is always healthy for the body. There are two types of fibres, the soluble fibre and insoluble fibre, both are heart healthy elements in the food. Eating oats, oat bran, fruits and a variety of vegetables will add soluble fibres to your diet, which can give long standing health benefits.

Exercise for Controlling Cholesterol

Exercise and physical activity can reduce LDL levels and triglycerides whereas raises HDL levels in our body thus making us heart healthy. The choice of exercise and the timings should be discussed with your doctor before starting on it, irrespective of whether you have health issues or not and even without age barriers.

A daily mild work-out of 30 minutes is all it takes to reduce your weight and gain ‘good’ cholesterol levels. For those who are too busy for half hour of exercise there is the option of doing some physical activity for 10 minute intervals during the day and as many times as possible.

Whatever the timing or the exercise you choose to do, to maintain proper weight and cholesterol levels you should be consistent in your work-out. Later you will be amazed by the results.

Here are a few options for your daily work-out:

  • Take a brisk walk during your lunch hour
  • Ride a bicycle to your work or shopping
  • Spend some time in the pool swimming few laps
  • Play a favorite sport in the morning or evening

Mix it up – Unlike what doctors believed earlier it is not only aerobic exercise that helps reduces cholesterol levels but endurance exercise has a significant effect. Even strength training and resistance training also has shown remarkable effects in boosting cholesterol metabolism.

A combination of three forms of exercise is usually recommended,

  • It is aerobics to get the heart rate up
  • For building muscle, strength training is the best
  • Stretching increases movement and flexibility in the body

Whether you are walking, running, lifting weights or doing yoga all it matters is that you are engaging in some physical activity and every form helps in enhancing ‘good’ cholesterol while controlling your weight and reducing the risk of heart ailments.

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