Simple steps to lower cholesterol

Change your diet and lifestyle to manage your cholesterol and to lower your risk of heart disease.
Your body needs a small amount of cholesterol to function properly. But we may get too much saturated fat and cholesterol in our diet, and both raise levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in arteries, leading to heart disease. HDL “good” cholesterol, on the other hand, helps clear bad cholesterol from your blood. You want to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, starting with your diet.

These simple tips can help you keep cholesterol levels in check.

Portion Control: Lend a hand

Use your hand. One serving of meat or fish is about what fits in the palm of your hand. One serving of fresh fruit is about the size of your fist. And a serving of cooked vegetables, rice, or pasta should fit in your cupped hand.

Serve up heart-healthy food

Load your plate with fruits and vegetables – five to nine servings a day, to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol. A handful of nuts is a tasty treat that helps in lowering cholesterol. Beans and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat, have more fiber.

Move it!

Even 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week (or 20 minutes three times a week for vigorous exercise, such as jogging) can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. If you’re not used to exercising or don’t want to go to a gym, take a walk. It’s easy, healthy, and all you need is a good pair of shoes.

You can exercise anywhere. Gardening, dancing, or walking your dog counts. Even housework can qualify as exercise, if it gets your heart rate up.

What to do when eating out

Restaurant food can be loaded with saturated fat, calories, and sodium. Even healthy choices may come in supersize portions. Choose broiled, baked, steamed, and grilled foods, not fried, and practice portion control, wherever you go.

Chronic stress can raise blood pressure

Lower your stress levels with relaxation exercises, meditation, or bio feedback. Focus on your breathing, and take deep, refreshing breaths. It’s a simple stress buster you can do anywhere.

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