Your doctor has just informed you that you have “hyperlipidemia” — or high cholesterol. She’s mentioning lipid-lowering drugs (statins), but you said you want to try some things on your own first. She agrees and will recheck your blood levels in three months. What are you going to do?
The advice is all over the map and your Google searches come up with various supplements and diets that are confusing and overwhelming. Here are some specific recommendations, based on evidence, that can help you lower your cholesterol.
- Decrease saturated fats in your diet to less than 7% of your calories and increase your polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead. Start reading labels. Teach your kids to read labels.
- Eat more fiber, for instance 3oz of oats a day or use a psyllium supplement.
- Eat almonds, walnuts or pecans every day. (only 1-2 oz which is about 10-12 nuts)
- Increase your soy protein like tofu or soy foods to replace meat.
- Limit alcohol drinks to 1-2 a day.
- Increase consumption of plant stanols and sterols by substituting (1 oz) buttery spreads for butter or margarine in your diet.
- Follow a Mediterranean diet where the main dietary fat is olive oil. The mainstay of Mediterranean is vegetables, whole grains, fish and tree nuts with small amounts of red meat, dairy, eggs and poultry. Look at your plate. If meat or poultry is the largest item, it is not Mediterranean.
- Increase Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet by eating salmon or tuna twice a week or using a supplement on other days. Why? Go here and here for details and evidence on the heart healthy benefits of Omega-3.
- Do aerobic (sweating, heart pumping) exercise for 120 minutes a week or more. (that’s 17 minutes a day or divide it up into several longer exercise segments)
There it is. When you doctor says the key to health is “diet and exercise,” this is what she means.
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*