Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can be very dangerous if it is too high. LDL causes a buildup of plaque in arteries, which can ultimately lead to heart attacks, heart disease, and even strokes. Be sure to make your yearly physical with your doctor and be sure to get your blood tests done so your doctor can monitor your health and determine what your LDL levels are. If they are too high your doctor will talk with you about options for medications and (should) talk with you about other ways to bring down your LDL safely and permanently.
Medication can certainly help lower cholesterol if it is way too high. This is a decision that you and your doctor should make based on blood tests.
One of the best benefits of exercise is gaining better health. This includes decreasing bad cholesterol. Most doctors recommend moderate exercise three days a week for relatively healthy people. Some doctors recommend more frequent exercise, especially cardio exercise, when LDL levels are high. Be sure that the cardio exercise works out your entire body, not just one part. Your whole body needs to get moving. A few great ideas of a good cardio exercises include:
- Brisk walking / jogging / running
- Yoga (yes, some yoga can be considered cardio)
- Elliptical machine
- Jump roping
- Row machine
- Insanity / P90X / Cardio workout programs
- Stair climber
What to Avoid
There are lots of foods that we should avoid in general, but especially if tests show bad LDL levels. When these foods and drinks are eliminated it is possible to lower these levels – fairly drastically depending on current intake levels of these types of foods and drinks. A few things that should be eliminated for general good health, but especially to reduce high LDL, include: butter, vegetable oil, red meat, and full-fat and low-fat dairy items.
What to eat / drink
There are lots of flavorful food that can be eaten to not only help lower bad cholesterol, but to also increase the overall health and quality of life. Here are a few examples. Remember that everything should be consumed in moderation and specific serving sizes will vary depending on height, weight, and other factors.
- Dark, unsweetened coco powder
- Fruit (i.e. apple, pear, orange, lemon, berries, avocado)
- Nuts (i.e. almonds, walnuts, pistachios)
- Good grains (i.e. oatmeal, barley, brown rice)
- Beans (i.e. black beans, lentils, kidney beans)
- Soy (i.e. tofu, soy milk, edamame)
- Fish (i.e. salmon, sardines, halibut, albacore tuna)
- Olive oil, garlic
- Red wine (just one glass a day)
- Green tea
There are lots of great, healthy options of food out there, and while they may be a bit more expensive it really is worth it to have better health and longer life.