Diet & Nutrition

How to manage your cholesterol levels with food

A few easy lifestyle edits will help keep your cholesterol levels in check, according to dietitian Kate Save.

Cholesterol is everywhere and seems to do everything: it’s found in food and also made by your body, where its job is to help make vitamin D and hormones, build cells and support your digestive system.

Produced in two main forms – high- and low-density lipoproteins (HDL and LDL) – this waxy fat-like substance is essential for good health, but too much can cause problems.

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As Kate Save, dietitian and CEO of Be Fit Foods explains, there’s “good” and “bad” cholesterol.

“HDL cholesterol, the ‘good’, carries other types of cholesterol to your liver where it can be promptly removed from your bloodstream before nutrition it builds up in your arteries,” she tells Body+Soul.

“LDL cholesterol [the bad] transports cholesterol to your arteries, where it may accumulate in artery walls, causing them to stiffen and narrow.”

Since having excess LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, keeping your levels in check is crucial.

How to balance your cholesterol levels

Want to balance your cholesterol levels naturally? Here’s how to do it:

1. Ditch the junk food

“To reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in your diet, cut down on foods that are high in saturated and trans fats,” Save says.

This includes foods like cookies, pastries, butter, cream, fried and fast foods, ice-cream and potato chips.

2. Get moving

Exercise can help increase the amount of HDL cholesterol in your blood, and even out LDL levels. Aim for 30-60 minutes of aerobic or resistance training each day.

3. Eat the rainbow

“Eating fruits and vegetables as well as oily fish can help boost levels of HDL cholesterol and keep total cholesterol levels in the healthy range,” Save adds. Load up on wholefoods and opt for plant-based products that are free of cholesterol and low in salt when you can.

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