Lifestyle

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And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom
- Anais Nin, Danish diarist

6 Tips to Help Lower Your Cholesterol

To help you meet your weight-loss goals, the South Beach Diet encourages you to eat nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods and to exercise regularly. By following the South Beach Diet lifestyle, you’re also on the right track to lowering your cholesterol and thereby reducing your risk of heart disease. Here are 6 ways to help improve your cholesterol levels:

Limit saturated fat. Saturated fat (often referred to as animal fat) — from foods such as poultry skin, full-fat dairy products, and fatty cuts of beef, lamb, and pork — can stimulate cholesterol production in the body and cause your total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol to rise. By adopting our diet, which is low in saturated fat, you've taken a good first step toward improving your cholesterol levels.

Avoid trans fats. Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils (check the list of ingredients on nutrition labels), may be even more damaging to cholesterol levels than saturated fats because they can raise your LDL cholesterol while lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol. Studies have shown that trans fats may also increase the risk of cancer. The South Beach Diet excludes foods like stick margarine, commercially packaged baked goods, crackers, chips, and other processed snacks, which often contain trans fats. On the South Beach Diet, we replace these unhealthy choices with products made with good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive, peanut, sunflower, and canola oils.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause an increase in LDL cholesterol. For many people, losing weight decreases your LDL; in addition, for every two pounds you lose, your HDL level may show an increase.

Exercise smart and often. At least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise that incorporates interval training every other day can also help lower LDL levels and raise HDL levels. Combining a healthy eating plan with exercise can help further your weight loss, which will likely lower cholesterol levels even more. The important thing is to be consistent: Find aerobic activities you enjoy. Walking, swimming, and biking are all good choices.

Quit smoking. In addition to being a major risk factor for heart disease and cancer, cigarette smoking can also contribute to low HDL levels. If you smoke, quitting may raise HDL levels by up to 10 percent.

See your physician regularly. If lifestyle measures haven’t helped to lower your cholesterol, or if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, it may be necessary to embark on a program of medical therapy in the form of a cholesterol-lowering drug or drugs. Your physician will help determine the best course of action for you.