When it comes to cholesterol, the discussion around LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol), and triglycerides can get confusing. To further complicate things, being overweight doesn’t necessarily cause high cholesterol, and you can have high cholesterol even if your weight is within normal limits.
It begs the question: does losing weight lower cholesterol? The best answer seems to be, “It definitely doesn’t hurt.”
When it comes to determining whether you are at risk for high cholesterol, your genes and environment both play a role. In other words, diet and exercise work together and create a baseline for what your cholesterol risks may be. For instance, if you eat a lot of fried, fatty foods, you may increase your cholesterol levels as well as gain weight.1
Another tricky thing with cholesterol is that even if you are in the process of losing weight, your blood cholesterol levels could go up temporarily because of the release of fatty acids into your bloodstream.2 So, if you’re losing weight to lower cholesterol levels and you find your cholesterol levels are rising, try not to panic. It’s a normal phenomenon and your levels should settle down once your weight has stabilized.
Wherever you are in your weight loss journey, use these tips to help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risks of related diseases:
Check Your Fats
Try to consume healthy fats when you can, and avoid unhealthy fats like trans fats that are found in many boxed and bagged varieties of food, such as chips, cookies, and other simple carbs. Avoid foods with the ingredient “partially-hydrogenated oil,” and remember, even trace amounts of trans fats can build up in your system and cause health problems later down the road.3
You'll also want to follow expert guidelines by keeping your saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your daily total calories.
Consume Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs), like omega-3, can also help to reduce your levels of triglycerides and lower your blood pressure.4 These EFA's are often found in fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, as well as in foods like tuna, almonds, walnuts, and ground flax seed.
Increase Your Fiber
Whenever possible, eat fiber-rich foods like oats, beans, lentils, fruits, and veggies. These all contain soluble fiber which has been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol levels.5 In addition, high-fiber diets help you stay full longer and support healthy digestion.
Incorporate Daily Exercise
Even with moderate levels of physical activity, you can raise your levels of HDL or good cholesterol. Small lifestyle changes such as incorporating a daily walk into your day, riding your bike to the grocery store, or getting involved in a sport that you love can make a difference. If you have trouble with mobility, stationary strength training and resistance exercises can be beneficial.
Avoid Smoking & Drinking
Quitting smoking may improve your levels of HDL cholesterol,6and avoid drinking, as drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk for heart disease and increase triglycerides in the blood.7
Try using some of these tips to help you lower your levels of bad cholesterol and raise your levels of good cholesterol, as well as help contribute to healthy weight loss. Losing just 5-10% of your current weight could help you lower cholesterol and feel healthier.8 Why not give it a shot?
Do you want to lose weight and feel better? Contact us for your free appointment and learn how Jenny Craig can help.
Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig