Lowering LDL cholesterol is one of the most crucial—and frequently overlooked—keys to overall heart health. Here’s helpful advice from Dr. Michael Roizen, Chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic, who recently teamed up with Metamucil to keep your cholesterol in check:
1. Get a Pedometer
You’d be amazed to see how many extra steps you can take in one day — grab a pedometer and watch the numbers roll as you make simple changes for your health and take the stairs, walk to work, or stroll around the neighborhood to increase your physical activity for better heart health. Tracking your progress throughout the day can be great inspiration to keep going, and walking is a simple and easy type of exercise to help lower cholesterol.
2. Find an Exercise Buddy
A healthy lifestyle requires motivation, encouragement, and a friend to lean on. Grab an exercise buddy and support each other in the challenge to lower your cholesterol. Take long walks together and encourage each other to try new types of physical activity to get the heart pumping and to keep cholesterol levels down. Enjoy each other’s company and laugh — reduced levels of stress will help your heart, too.
3. Steer Clear of Hidden Fats and Sugars
Be an informed eater. Get to know your ingredients and read the nutrition labels thoroughly. Hidden sugars and unhealthy ingredients can increase your weight, which can lead to high cholesterol. Stay away from foods that contain high levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and hidden sources of sugar such as high fructose corn syrup, some dextrins, or evaporated cane juice.
4. Say Psyllium, Please
One of the simplest tips is to get more fiber in your diet. Viscous soluble fiber like psyllium fiber, the natural dietary fiber found in Metamucil, is proven to help lower total and “lousy” LDL cholesterol because it forms a thick gel that traps and helps remove some cholesterol, bile acids, and waste in the gut. Most Americans only get 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day through their normal diet, versus the recommended 20 to 35 grams. This is why I recommend my patients supplement low fat, low cholesterol diets with 7 grams of soluble fiber from psyllium daily, as in Metamucil.
5. Add Healthy Fat, Too
DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Regular intake of DHA can aid in proper heart function, help lower LDL, and raise HDL, or the “healthy” cholesterol. Popular sources of DHA are salmon, sardines, tuna — but if you aren’t a seafood fan, try fish oil supplements. Don’t like fishy taste? Get the healthy fat from vegetarian supplements made with algal DHA.