-Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
Since September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month I thought that it would be a good opportunity to talk about ways in which we can all work on lowering our cholesterol. Drugs that are taken for lower low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) cholesterol are the most widely prescribed drugs in the entire world. Bet you didn’t know that. I read an interesting article the other day on CNN.com that talked about The National Cholesterol Education Program and what they recommend to lower cholesterol through exercise and diet. Basically lifestyle changes you can make to lower your cholesterol so you do not need to turn to prescription drugs.
Diet is a key factor. Lowering the amount of saturated fat as a percentage of total calories is the first step toward decreasing your cholesterol, as saturated fat goes hand-in-hand with higher cholesterol. Another suggestion is to eat more plant- based foods and whole grains as well as limit red meat, full- fat dairy products, baked goods and fried foods. All of these dietary changes can help reduce saturated fats. The intake of soluble fiber is another thing they stress. Foods with high amounts of soluble fiber include oats, beans, fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibers are effective because they trap cholesterol in the digestive tract so that it passes through your body instead of into your blood stream. Adding stanols and sterols such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds also help decrease cholesterol levels because they compete with cholesterol for absorption into the body’s system.
Living a therapeutic lifestyle that incorporates daily exercise is also very important. Women and men with belly fat are more likely to have high cholesterol and need to lose as much as 10 percent of one’s body weight to significantly improve health.
If you make the above lifestyle changes, The National Cholesterol Education Program claims you can avoid the negative side effects that come from cholesterol reducing prescription drugs.