We all have nutrition questions. Send yours along to RVNA’s on-staff dietitian, Meg Whitbeck, MS RDN, and she’ll get back to you with answers and advice.
October 2017 Newsletter: Ask the Dietitian
The Question: Lowering Cholesterol Naturally
I was recently diagnosed with high cholesterol. While I know there are medications that can help manage it, I’d rather try to control my cholesterol naturally, through diet and lifestyle. Do you think this is possible? Can you offer any advice?
We like to start by addressing dietary and lifestyle changes because we want to avoid taking medications if we can. Learning about the roles of cholesterol in your body (Yes, it has a job! It is here for a reason!) and then addressing diet and lifestyle changes that might improve our health is always the best (and cheapest!) way to start.
If your blood lipid profile doesn’t change after making healthy diet and lifestyle modifications, you may need medication to help.
To start, here are five lifestyle adjustments — recommended by the Mayo Clinic — that can help you lower your cholesterol. You may recognize some of these tips. They are not necessarily revolutionary, but if your high cholesterol is due to diet and lifestyle, these changes will certainly make a difference:
1. Eat Heart Healthy Foods — Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.
And be sure to choose healthier fats: limit saturated fats, eliminate trans fats, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, increase soluble fiber and add whey protein.
2. Increase Physical Activity and Exercise — Moderate physical activity daily can raise HDL (high density lipoprotein), the “good cholesterol.” With a physician’s approval, work up to at least 30 minutes a day.
3. Quit Smoking (if you smoke) — Quitting can improve your HDL cholesterol level.
4. Lose Weight — even a few extra pounds contribute to high cholesterol.
5. Keep Alcohol Consumption Moderate — For healthy adults, this means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
If these adjustments help to lower your cholesterol, excellent. If not, your doctor make prescribe medication. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon these habits! They have health benefits beyond simply cholesterol.
Let me know how it goes and think about joining the RVNA Cholesterol Challenge starting October 10!
can develop insulin resistance. In other words, our bodies don’t recognize or use insulin as effectively, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels which can lead to Diabetes and other health complications. By choosing to eat healthfully now, you can avoid this altogether!
In the next few weeks, I will have 3 classes as part of the “Healthy Cooking for Diabetes” series. Come and join us — it’s open to all! You will learn how to navigate the kitchen to ensure lifelong health, and you’ll have fun while you’re at it.