A few weeks back, I was with friends and a local restaurant and I overheard the table next to us talking nutrition. Now, unlike most of North America, they weren’t talking about eating for weight loss. Instead, they were talking about eating to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Now, this is by no means a strange subject of conversation. However, this topic has come up too many times recently to let is slide by without comment. You see, just the week prior, I was asked about lowing cholesterol during a radio interview. Then, during an interview for the local newspaper, it came up again. And finally, a good friend called me aside recently to ask what he could do to lower his cholesterol.
I guess it’s no wonder this is such a hot topic. I’m always startled when I look up the most recent cholesterol stats. Indeed, nowadays approximately 1 in 3 North Americans has high cholesterol. That’s a lot of blood cholesterol floating around North America. And since high cholesterol levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, this is definitely something we all need to keep in check. Especially those of us over 35.
So, what’s my advice? What can you do to keep those cholesterol levels in check? Well, here’s my high cholesterol hit list.
- Lose some weight
For starters, the most effective cholesterol lowering strategy on the planet is weight loss. That’s right, there’s a strong correlation between carrying excess fat – especially fat in the abdominal region – and blood cholesterol. So, if you’ve got high cholesterol, take a look in the mirror. For the most part, your reflection should explain the cholesterol problem. Next, do something about it. Drop the body fat by doing more purposeful, intense exercise and cleaning up your diet.Amazingly, weight loss is actually more effective than cholesterol lowering meds like statin drugs. So, do yourself, your arteries, and your straining waistline a favor. Make getting in better shape your next priority.
- Increase dietary fiber
In addition to exercising and making better food choices, your next line of defense in the battle against high cholesterol is to eat more dietary fiber. Where do you get this fiber? Well, vegetables, unprocessed whole grains, and legumes such as beans and lentils are a great start.Now, rather than just “trying” to eat more of these healthy foods, here’s a foolproof strategy. Add 1 cup of beans to your menu – every day. That’s right, in addition to the vegetables, whole oats, and whole grain bread you should be eating each day, top off your fiber intake with 1 cup of kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, etc. This will be a huge help in getting those cholesterol levels in check.
- Look for special supplements
For most people, dropping body fat and boosting fiber intake should be all it takes to get that cholesterol in check. However, for those folks who need a bit more firepower, there are two excellent nutritional supplements that can really help.The first is called “no flush” Niacin (or Inositol Hexanicotinate). This form of the B-Vitamin Niacin has been shown to raise good cholesterol levels (HDL) while lowering bad cholesterol and total cholesterol levels (LDL).
In addition to no flush niacin, policosanols (naturally occurring plant sterols) also can powerfully lower cholesterol levels while boosting immune system function. I suggest trying both if your cholesterol levels are spiraling out of control
You know, nowadays, at the first sign of high cholesterol, docs are putting people on statin drugs and other blood lipid lowering chemicals. And while these chemicals work pretty well, they come complete with a host of unwelcome side effects; side effects that can make managing your cholesterol a rocky road.
Indeed, the current crop of cholesterol lowering drugs can lead to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, lowered exercise tolerance, muscle pain, depression, and more. And, in my opinion, this makes the treatment worse than the disease. But don’t take my word for it. Ask anyone who’s been prescribed these drugs and suffered the consequences.
So instead of relying on the meds, give the three strategies above a try, discussing your plan with your doc, of course. These strategies can decrease your cholesterol levels now while keeping them in check for the rest of your life. Without drugs. What a novel idea!
Want to get in the best shape of your life, and stay that way for good? Check out the following 5-day body transformation courses.
The best part? They're totally free.
To check out the free courses, just click one of the links below.