What’s the number one cause of death in America? According to the CDC, it’s heart disease. The preventable, unnecessary, easily avoidable, heart disease. Half of men >65 years old are prescribed expensive statin medications that cause obnoxious side effects like muscle pain. Here’s 5 tips to decrease cholesterol naturally.
1. Minimize Dietary Cholesterol and Saturated Fat
Cholesterol is only found in animal foods like meat, dairy, eggs, butter, and mayonnaise, and products containing animal foods like pastries, ice cream, cakes, and cookies. Our livers make cholesterol to help fat travel in the blood. Cholesterol is not a nutrient and it is not necessary to eat it.
Saturated fat is fat that is solid at room temperature. Most animal fats are saturated (fish being the exception). Be sure to avoid processed and red meats and high fat animal products like cheeses and creams.
2. Portion Control Healthy Fats
There are lots of benefits to a little bit of healthy fat but be sure to remember the two key words here, LITTLE BIT! Healthy fats would be the fats from plant sources or ones that are liquid at room temperature, like avocado, olives, almonds, sunflower seeds, and olive oil. The general rule is 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat is enough per meal. Think of it as a garnish, not a main event. Try these 10 tips to help decrease fat intake:
- Steam, boil, or bake food instead of frying it. Be sure to use parchment paper instead of spraying pans with oil. It is super quick clean up and very effective non-stick.
- Sautee in water, it tastes the same!
- Buy a nonstick pan, I have made perfect pancakes without any oil
- Replace some of the oil in recipes with apple sauce
- Instead of eggs try making a “flax/chia egg”: 1 to 3 ratio- 1 tablespoon of ground flax or chia to 3 tablespoons of water, combine and let sit for about 10 minutes to let it form a gel. Or, a mashed banana also works as a great egg alternative.
- Choose low fat plant based alternatives when it comes to meat, cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk
- Incorporate more products that are already naturally fat free like salsa, fat free marinara, jelly and jam
- Instead of snacking on fatty snack foods like chips, try pretzels, fat free organic popcorn, fat free granola, or rice cakes
- Be sure to read ingredients labels and look out for any added fats and oils, especially “hydrogenated oils” because those are trans fats!
- When you go out to eat, ask for dressing on the side so you can control how much fat you are eating and let them know you are sensitive to oil so they won’t sprinkle any extra on top of your food.
3. Eat Plenty of Plant Foods
Plant foods like grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are all sources of fiber. Soluble fiber has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
The American Council of Exercise says most adults could gain substantial health benefits from 2 1/2 hours of weekly moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or gardening. That’s only 30 minutes a day 5 days a week! Our hearts are muscles too- gotta work those out!
5. Make Stress Your Friend
Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal has a great talk about recent research showing if we believe that the stress response is a good thing, the negative effects decrease. Definitely watch her talk and remember: our stress is good! It makes us perform better, and there is nothing that we can’t handle.