Elevated cholesterol, which causes 2.6 million deaths per year, may be a result of genetics (familial hyperlipidemia) and/or nutrition. Wouldn’t it be great if eating specific foods each week and adding in a little exercise could improve a person’s high cholesterol level? Well, here’s some good news, certain foods as well as exercise have been shown to help.
According to David Katz, MD, author of Cut Your Cholesterol, if you’re eating a diet that is high in saturated fats and trans fatty acids you’re more likely to have high cholesterol. Cutting your consumption of saturated fat to <7 percent of your total calories and increasing your fiber intake by 5 to 10 grams/day, could lower your LDL level by 17 to 30 percent. If on top of that you start adding more bran, apples, oats, nuts to your diet Dr. Katz says your LDL will drop a few percentage points more or possibly increase your HDL.
How to Improve HDL
This is where exercise can help, especially with improving your HDL and overall ratio. In one study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, strength training lowered cholesterol level by 10 percent and LDL by 14 percent after training 14-weeks (3x/wk).
In a 2007 study published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 24-weeks of regular aerobic exercise training lowered both cholesterol levels and lowered “bad” cholesterol, or LDL. This group of researcher’s also found that HDL, or “good” cholesterol, was increased after a period of aerobic exercise training.
Ten Cholesterol Fighting Foods
Here is our list of specific foods that research has shown to have a positive association with lowering cholesterol.
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts and cashews)
- Edamame (soy)
- Salmon (all fatty-fish)
- Oranges (one Canadian study saw a 21 percent increase in HDL in subjects while also lowering their LDL/HDL ratio by 16 percent after just 4-weeks).
- Prunes (“dried plums” contain a soluble fiber called pectin that helps to “soak up” cholesterol).
- Beans (when a group of men ate 1.5 cups of pinto beans/day their total cholesterol dropped 56 points).
- Oatmeal (add nuts or slices apple and/or pear for extra fiber).
Wash some of these foods down with some Green Tea (and have a piece of dark chocolate on the side:>).
Cut Your Cholesterol by David Katz, MD and Debra Gordon, Reader’s Digest, 2003.(I actually helped develop the exercise program for the book).
Use the Jefit App
Jefit, named best app for 2022 by PC Magazine, Forbes Health and others, comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.
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