Written by Carleen Brown
Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is an essential part of good health. High levels of cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits on the walls of your arteries. Over time, that build up can cause a narrowing or hardening of your arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. High cholesterol can also lead to Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.
Diet and exercise are two key factors that can help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle overall. There are specific foods you can consume, however, to maintain a good cholesterol level. The American Heart Association recommends 300mg of cholesterol daily, so make informed decisions as you plan your menu.
Oatmeal, oat bran, apples, and pears are among foods that are great sources of fiber and work to reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the body. Olive oil is an antioxidant that lowers the level of LDL, the bad form of cholesterol. Avocados, blueberries, tomatoes, and Brussel sprouts are among several fruits and vegetables that contain sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols are substances that are naturally occurring in plant foods and work to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, studies have shown that LDL cholesterol levels have been reduced by an average of 6% to 14% in as little as four weeks by eating foods with plant sterols. Healthcare professionals at Harvard Medical School report that adding fish to the menu two or three times a week can lower LDL cholesterol with omega-3 fats.
Exercise is also a proven method to help address cholesterol in your body. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic report that exercising at a moderate physical level can raise your HDL, the good form of cholesterol. Adding high-intensity intervals to your daily workout of 30 minutes can help you to keep your cholesterol level in check. The right combination of diet and exercise will also have significant benefits in other areas of your health as well.