By: Catherine G., RDN, LD
Cholesterol is necessary for the body to function properly. It is an important part of the structure of cells, hormones, and vitamins. Cholesterol comes from two sources: the liver and food.
The liver makes enough cholesterol for the body’s needs and can adjust how much it makes depending on how much we eat. Food sources of cholesterol are only found in animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy.
Why is Cholesterol important
Cholesterol is usually split into two categories; LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease and HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. HDL helps remove extra cholesterol from the body. Keeping LDL in a normal range and increasing HDL may help protect our heart.
How to improve your cholesterol
What you eat is only one part of the puzzle when trying to improve cholesterol. Here are 5 things you can do to help your cholesterol:
1. Eat more soluble fiber. All fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans) contain soluble fiber. You could start with:
- Eating overnight oats or instant oatmeal
- Adding flax seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, or cereal
- Adding beans to your chili
- Using avocados instead of butter in dishes like mashed potatoes
- Enjoying roasted brussels sprouts as a side dish
2. Be more active. This can help increase your good cholesterol and lower the bad. Adding small amounts of movement throughout the day can help you lose weight, which also helps reduce cholesterol. If it feels difficult, try starting with small changes like:
- Doing extra chores around the house
- Having a dance party with your kids
- Taking a walk during a break at work
- Stretching or walking around the room while watching TV
3. Eat less saturated fat. This type of fat is found in meat, dairy, fried foods, and tropical oils like coconut oil. Some ideas to decrease your intake include:
- Topping your toast or bagels with peanut butter, avocados, or cream cheese instead of butter.
- Cooking veggies in olive oil instead of butter.
- Choosing leaner cuts of beef and pork, look for the words “round” or “loin.” Some examples include eye of round, top round, top sirloin, tenderloin, loin chops
- Choosing mayonnaise made with olive oil.
4. Quit all types of nicotine. If you dip, vape, or smoke, quitting can help lower cholesterol and risk for cancer and heart disease.
5. Lose weight. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount. A couple of pounds here and there can help improve cholesterol and overall health.
Ready to make changes? Talk to your DayTwo team to make a plan that works best for you.