If you have high cholesterol, you’re also at higher risk for heart disease. But the good news is, it’s a risk you can control. You can lower your “bad”LDL Cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL Cholesterol. You just have to make some simple changes.
Ban Trans Fats
“They raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke,” Steinbaum says. But it’s hard to avoid them. They’re found in fried foods, baked goods (cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, and cookies), and stick margarines.
That’s why the FDA is taking steps to remove them from the food supply. How can you avoid them in the meantime? When you go shopping, read the labels. But be careful if you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on the package. That’s just a fancy name for trans fat.
You don’t have to lose a lot of weight to lower your cholesterol. If you’re overweight, drop just 10 pounds and you’ll cut your LDL by up to 8%. But to really keep off the pounds, you’ll have to do it over time. A reasonable and safe goal is 1 to 2 pounds a week. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute notes that while inactive, overweight women usually need 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for weight loss, active, overweight women and women weighing more than 164 pounds usually require 1,200 to 1,600 calories each day. If you’re extremely active during your weight-loss program, you may require additional calories to avoid hunger.
“Exercising at least 2 1/2 hours a week is enough to raise HDL and improve LDL and triglyceryds,” says Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist in Plano, TX. If you haven’t been active, start slowly -- even 10-minute blocks of activity count. Choose an exercise you enjoy. And buddy up: An exercise partner can help keep you on track.