Have you been told you need to manage your cholesterol levels? If so, you're not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 94 million Americans over 20 have a total cholesterol level above what physicians recommend.
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance produced by the liver. Too much cholesterol can build up in the bloodstream and block your organs and tissue. High cholesterol levels can also increase the chance of heart disease and stroke. This is why physicians recommend your total cholesterol level be below 200mg per deciliter.
Thankfully, cholesterol levels can be managed by following these ten tips:
Relax – Stress can cause cholesterol to spike. Make it a daily practice to find time to relax, not with a screen, but with a book or low-impact activity like yoga.
Lose weight – Easier said than done, but weight loss doesn't have to be drastic. Aim to lose one pound a week. By dropping 10 pounds, you can lower your cholesterol by up to 8%.
Quit smoking – One study has shown individuals who quit smoking saw cholesterol levels drop by 5% in one year.
Eat more fiber – Eating more fiber makes you feel full, but just 5g-10g more a day can lower cholesterol levels. Apples, beans, oatmeal, and prunes all contain fiber.
Snack on nuts – Like fiber, nuts help prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol. The downside is that nuts can be high in calories.
Start exercising – Movement that makes you sweat can help reduce cholesterol levels. Doctors recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise every week.
Choose olive oil – Exchanging butter for extra-virgin olive oil increases the intake of healthy fats and potentially reduces bad cholesterol by 15%.
Add some spice – Up to one clove a day can drop cholesterol by up to 9%. Adding spices like cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and pepper can also improve cholesterol levels.
Eliminate trans fats – The FDA has taken steps to reduce these cholesterol-increasing fats. Even so, stay away from products with "partially hydrogenated oil" on their ingredient label.
Eat wild-caught fish – Red meat is high in saturated fats. Lower your cholesterol by replacing two red meat meals with wild-caught fish, like salmon and tuna.