A Guide to Help You Watch Your Cholesterol Levels

The main way to watch your cholesterol levels is to watch your diet. Properly controlling the food you eat every day is important if your goal is to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
A Guide to Help You Watch Your Cholesterol Levels

Last update: 05 February, 2021

The best way to watch your cholesterol levels is by adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Yes, anyone can have high cholesterol. But you can lower these levels if you take the right measures.

Cholesterol is a substance similar to fat. It’s mainly produced in the liver and is essential for life. The so-called “bad cholesterol” is deposited in tissues, including arteries. “Good cholesterol” is the one that collects “bad cholesterol” and takes it back to the liver to be expelled.

You should focus on reducing “bad cholesterol” levels and increasing “good cholesterol” levels. This will protect you from cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of death in the Western Hemisphere.

How can you do this?

Discover the answer below!

The diet you should follow to watch your cholesterol levels

Heart healthy foods.
A good diet is essential to keep your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health under control.

A healthy diet is one of the key factors in cholesterol. It’s important to avoid excess weight. For this, you need to reduce your caloric intake. Before defining the dietary guidelines, you should remember that foods are divided into three groups:

  • Adequate foods. Those low in saturated fat and high in carbohydrates and vegetable fiber. You should eat these foods regularly. They include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and olive oil.
  • Foods you should only eat occasionally. You shouldn’t eat these foods every day, as they contain a lot of unsaturated fat or contain low or medium levels of saturated fat. Lean meats and seed oils belong to this group.
  • Not recommended. These are foods you should only eat sparingly, as they’re high in saturated fat and cholesterol. They include whole dairy products and their derivatives, fatty meats, sausages, commercially fried foods, and industrial pastries.

The daily meal plan

Now that you know the recommended and non-recommended foods, you have to develop a daily meal plan to watch your cholesterol levels. It should be focused on controlling the saturated fat you eat every day.

The following dietary guideline is useful for this purpose:

  • If you consume 1,200 calories a day, you shouldn’t consume more than 10 grams of saturated fat.
  • If you consume 1,500 calories a day, you shouldn’t consume more than 13 grams of saturated fat.
  • But if you consume 1,800 calories a day, you shouldn’t consume more than 16 grams of saturated fat.
  • If you consume 2,000 calories a day, you shouldn’t consume more than 18 grams of saturated fat.
  • If you consume 2,500 calories a day, you shouldn’t consume more than 22 grams of saturated fat.

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs are high in calories and low in nutrients. They include sugars and sweets. Complex carbs are low in calories and high in fiber. They include cereals, pasta, rice, vegetables, and fruits.

The idea is to mostly consume complex carbohydrates. Likewise, you should include soluble fiber in your daily diet. Eating five to ten grams of soluble fiber every day reduces bad cholesterol levels by up to five percent. It’s best to introduce it gradually. Whole grains, fruits, beans, chickpeas, and lentils, among other foods, are sources of soluble fiber.

Other dietary aspects to watch your cholesterol

A man deciding on healthy or unhealthy foods.
In addition to eating foods that help regulate cholesterol, it’s a good idea to limit your salt intake and choose good cooking methods.

Some vegetables contain sterols and stanols. Experts have established that consuming just two grams of these elements every day can reduce bad cholesterol by between 10 and 15%.

Likewise, it’s very convenient to reduce the salt you consume every day. Instead of adding salt to foods to make them taste good, opt for spices and other condiments. Here are some good options:

  • Bay
  • Thyme
  • Onion and garlic
  • Pepper
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Curry
  • Lemon
  • Paprika

You should cut out alcohol entirely or only drink it occasionally. Prefer grilling, baking, and steaming cooking methods. Experts recommend avoiding fried foods.

Exercise: A key factor

The second major factor that affects cholesterol management is regular exercise. Staying physically active is essential to prevent cardiovascular problems, control your weight, and, thus, reduce “bad cholesterol” levels.

You should implement exercise routines gradually and with medical supervision if you have any health problems or if you’re over 40 years old. Under normal conditions, 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Finally, experts highly recommend avoiding all forms of tobacco. This substance is associated with 30% of cardiovascular diseases. Your health will thank you for quitting this bad habit!

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