What to Expect from a Life of High Cholesterol
If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, what does that actually mean? Chances are you've heard a lot about high cholesterol. You might be feeling nervous about the lifestyle changes that invariably need to come from having high cholesterol.
What can you really expect from this kind of diagnosis?
One of the first things you'll probably have to change in your life is your diet.
You'll want to start lowering the amount of cholesterol you take in, as well as reduce the amount of chemicals you take in which can cause your liver to produce extra cholesterol.
To make a long story short, you'll have to start eating healthier. You'll need to cut back on fatty foods, processed foods and preserved foods, and increase your intake of greens, fruits and whole grains.
Medication & Treatments
You'll likely also need to start taking one or more medications regularly.
These medications can range from very mild with no side effects to extreme kinds of medications for drastic changes to your cholesterol.
Taking medications works a lot faster than dietary changes or lifestyle changes. However, it doesn't actually affect your overall health and other health complications can come up.
Another change in your lifestyle is regular visits to your doctor.
If you're at a moderate to high risk level, you'll need to see your doctor regularly for tests, for prescriptions and for check-ups.
You'll also want to see your doctor regularly just so you can discuss your options and measure your progress.
Exercise and Activity Recommended
Your doctor will probably tell you that you should start exercising if you don't already.
The American Heart Association recommends working out 30 minutes a day, four days a week. Of course, in the beginning, it might make sense to only work out twice a week for a few minutes at a time to get your body used to exercise again.
If you haven't worked out for a while, starting to work out again can be quite a change in lifestyle. Though it'll be tough at first, getting exercise is good for your overall health, in addition to your cholesterol.
Can High Cholesterol Actually Be a Good Thing?
Having high cholesterol can be treated as a kind of a wake-up call. It's not as serious as cancer or other kinds of health conditions and is more or less curable.
The main cure is to live a healthier lifestyle, as well as to take the necessary medications.
In other words, though having high cholesterol can be very dangerous for your health, it can also be treated as a wake-up call to get healthier overall.
Lowering your cholesterol helps prevent all kinds of other health diseases. Researchers have estimated that a 1% reduction in cholesterol results in a 2% to 3% reduction in your likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.
Being diagnosed with high cholesterol definitely means some lifestyle changes. It might mean several months or even a couple years of paying a lot of attention to your health. But in time, even this will fade into the background.
High Cholesterol Diet Tips
Your dietary habits, including what you eat and how much you eat it, can have a lot to do with your cholesterol levels. Your cholesterol levels are determined in large part by your dietary habits over the course of years.
While changing your diet won't have an immediate impact on your cholesterol, it's crucial that you start changing your diet if you want to improve your health in the long run.
Here are a few tips if you have high cholesterol.
Start by Cutting Back on Binge Eating
Are you eating more than your daily recommended caloric intake? If so, then your first step should be to start eating smaller portion sizes.
Start by eating with smaller size plates. Studies have shown that if food is presented on a smaller plate, smaller quantities of food can still "feel" like it's a full meal.
Lower the amount of food you eat per meal. Aim to eat until you feel satiated but not stuffed.
Eliminate Junk Foods & Fat Foods
Take out all the junk foods and high fat foods in your diet.
This includes deep fried foods, preserved foods, microwaved meals, untrimmed red meats and any other foods that have high fat content.
Look at the amount of fat per serving in the ingredients list of the food you're going to buy. Make sure you also check how many servings are in each package.
Eliminating junk foods from your diet can sometimes be all it takes to drastically cut down your cholesterol intake.
Get Help from a Nutritionist or Doctor
Trying to change your diet on your own is extremely difficult. The human body's relationship to foods is actually quite similar to drugs.
If you're used to eating certain foods and suddenly try to quit, the body can go into emotional withdrawal. This is one of the big reasons why people have so much trouble sticking to diets.
Instead of trying to do it on your own, having support of others can go a long way. If possible, have a nutritionist, doctor, friend, family member or even psychologist walk you step by step through the process if possible.
Add In Fibers Slowly
Don't try to do it all at once; but adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can really go a long way.
Start by adding a small salad to each meal. Instead of having to make it each meal, it helps to just prepare a large batch of salad and add (low fat) dressing with each meal.
In between meals, try snacking on a pear or orange instead of a snack bar.
Changing your diet isn't easy because you may be literally trying to reverse decade-old habits. However, reversing these habits is often what's necessary to see the changes you want to see.
Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol
If you've discovered you have high cholesterol, you'll likely want to get started on lowering your cholesterol right away. Fortunately, high cholesterol is a medical condition that you have a lot of control over.
Unlike cancer and many other diseases, high cholesterol is entirely within your ability to change. Here are a few tips to help you lower your cholesterol levels.
The Pros and Cons of Medication
The most effective manner to reduce cholesterol is to take medications. Medications are more effective than both exercise and dietary changes on lowering cholesterol.
However, what's interesting about medications for lowering cholesterol is that they don't actually lower mortality or complication rates.
In other words, even though medication can help you reduce your cholesterol, the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle still show up in other ways.
In light of that, the best way to lower cholesterol while actually improving your health is to do it naturally, with the aid of medication if the high cholesterol counts get to threatening levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown time and time again to be an extremely effective tool for lowering cholesterol levels.
You can eat whole fish, or you can even eat canned fish or omega-3 fish oil supplements. Fish in all its different forms lower both triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels.
Try to add fish into your normal weekly diet.
Replace Your Fats
Try to reduce high cholesterol fats with low cholesterol, healthy plant fats.
Instead of putting margarine or butter on your bread, try using a couple slices of avocado instead. The texture is similar, but it's more natural and much healthier.
Instead of using peanut oil, try cooking with olive oil. Again, natural plant oils are much healthier and have lower cholesterols.
Fats in and of themselves aren't bad for you. It's only the processed and high cholesterol fats that harm you.
Go Easy on the Meat
Avoid eating meat too often. Instead, try to eat vegetables and fruits more often, as well as whole grains.
When you do eat meat, try to go for leaner cuts. Avoid fatty steaks and bulky pieces of meats. Make sure you avoid the skin and the areas of fat right beneath the skin.
Try to eat chicken or fish rather than red meats.
Eat at Home More Often
The trouble with eating out is that you can't see how much sugar, oils, butter and other kinds of fats and chemicals they're putting in your food.
Often times if you looked in the kitchen while they were cooking your dish, you'd be shocked at how many high cholesterol ingredients they're putting in there.
Try to avoid eating out whenever possible. Eat at home and use fats and sweeteners sparingly.
Lowering your cholesterol is entirely within your control. Talk to your doctor about a target level and use these tips to help you get started.
TV Dinners, Microwavable Meals
Finally, avoid microwavable meals of all sorts.
Microwavable meals and frozen meals are packed full of preservatives and other unhealthy chemicals. They're also extremely high in calories and tend to have a lot of hidden sugar.
Instead of eating microwavable dinners, it's much healthier to either cook in yourself or find a sandwich shop or other healthy quick food joint in your neighborhood.
Finally, many desserts are also packed full of sugars, fats, diary and all kinds of other high cholesterol ingredients.
If you have high cholesterol, does that mean you can never enjoy ice cream or chocolate again? Not necessarily. Low-fat, low-calorie alternative ice creams and chocolates are still a valid option.
These are some of the most important foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol. Again, the first step to getting your cholesterol down to healthy levels is to stop taking in more unhealthy cholesterols.
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