10 Ways to Reduce Cholesterol

It has been estimated that 3-in-5 people in the UK have high cholesterol, with many unaware of their current levels. A healthy cholesterol level is anything below five; however the UK average is almost six and the problem has become the single biggest medical risk factor for coronary heart disease – the UK's leading killer.

To lower your risk of heart disease,
here are 10 ways to reduce cholesterol levels.

High Fibre Foods

Adding a number of high-fibre foods to your diet, like oatmeal and oat bran, is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce bad cholesterol. Soluble fibre is best for cholesterol purposes, although insoluble fibre also has its benefits as well.

Fish

One portion of oily fish such as tuna, sardines, or salmon a week can help cut cholesterol by slowing the growth of plaque in arteries. Countries with high fish consumption have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, so make omega-3s and omega-6s part of your diet.

Nuts

Despite being high in calories, many kinds of nuts are very good for lowering cholesterol and helping to prevent heart disease. Your best choices in this case are walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and pine nuts. Just make sure these are not salted or sugared.

Olive Oil

Olive oil helps with bad cholesterol while leaving the good cholesterol alone. The secret to its power is the many antioxidants it contains. Extra-virgin olive oil is the best, and is great as part of a vinaigrette or as a substitute for butter when baking, basting, or sautéing.

Cut Down on Saturated Fat in Cooking

Saturated fats are perhaps the one thing most associated with high cholesterol. Cutting down on the use of saturated fat by replacing butter and margarine with cooking oils, and bake, roast or steam food instead of frying. Using non-stick frying pans is also a good idea.

Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils have a lot of soluble fibre that, as we discussed earlier, is very good for lowering cholesterol. Nevertheless, these also have an added benefit: they can take the place of animal proteins to reduce saturated fats. Both are versatile enough to including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Garlic

Studies looking into the effect garlic has in lowering cholesterol have shown mixed results, largely due to inconsistent methodologies and preparation methods. Among the tests that
have shown positive
results, raw garlic
seems to provide
the most benefit.
For best results,
consume 500 to
1000 mg daily.

Lycopene Foods

Lycopene is a substance found in many red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelons, apricots, papaya, pink guava, and pink grapefruit. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps to reduce bad cholesterol in the blood. The more lycopene foods you can eat, the better.

Exercise

Like diet, exercise is essential in cutting LDL levels and boosting HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Activities that boost heart rate are best, so try things like jogging, swimming, or even gardening for 30-minutes, 5 times a week.

Get More Sleep at Night

Enjoying a full night's sleep has been proven to lower cholesterol, with studies showing that people getting eight hours of slumber a night have lower cholesterol than those who only sleep for six. Avoid napping through the day though; recent research[2] by the medical journal Sleep Medicine revealed that taking an afternoon nap of 30 minutes or more could contribute to high cholesterol.

1. Heart UK – http://heartuk.org.uk/cholesterol-and-health
2. http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=27847