How I’m Getting Started with a Healthier, Lower Cholesterol Lifestyle by Janise Burrafato

With the new year brings a new approach to my health. One of my personal goals for 2020 is lowering cholesterol naturally. While it doesn’t hurt for everyone to incorporate a little bit of a healthier approach at the beginning of the year, I’m sharing my story on why and how I’m lowering my cholesterol with some healthy lifestyle changes.  

I know everyone says they are, but I am a health freak.  I don’t smoke, drink moderately and I do my best to exercise regularly, avoid processed foods, sugar and sodium, visit my dentist twice a year and go for my physical check-up every year.  

You can say I’m very proactive when it comes to my health.  Yet, I still have a minor health issue.  

 

I recently went in for my annual physical, which included a Colonoscopy, routine Mammogram, a Pap smear, and a complete blood count test.  Everything checked out fine. However, my cholesterol level had risen by 20% since last year. (Note to self: do not eat 6 croissants the day before the test!)  If my cholesterol level is high, then I’m at a higher risk for heart disease.  But luckily, it’s a risk that I have complete control over.

Even though my cholesterol is still below the recommended level,l lowering cholesterol naturally is going to be my top priority within the next couple of months.  My goal is to lower that number by at least 25% while improving it over time to avoid medication. Here’s what I’m planning to add and modify my existing lifestyle.

 

Eating Healthier Foods 

I’m already eating healthy foods, but I will be cutting back on chicken thighs and red meat. Instead, I’ll be replacing them with more fish, vegetables, and nuts.  Eating fatty chicken parts and red meat raises cholesterol levels, as it contains saturated fats, which is considered the “bad” cholesterol. The only types of fish that I’ll be limiting are swordfish and mackerel as they are high in mercury, which increases heart disease risk. 

 

Exercise More

I do my best to practice yoga a few times a week, but this doesn’t always happen given my busy daily schedule.  Since exercise can help raise HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, I’ll be adding cardio and vigorous aerobic activity at least three times a week.  This means that I need to wake up an hour earlier than usual to start the regimen. While it sounds like a commitment, I know with this change, I will be a happier and healthier person. 

Alcohol Consumption 

I’m not going to lie, I love my wine, especially at night with my dinners.  I understand that too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart failure, and strokes.  Although moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, one should do so in moderation. This means one drink a day for women like me. To help reduce the LDL cholesterol level, I’ll be cutting back even more f to 3 drinks a week.

 

For the next couple of months, I will focus on a healthy diet and exercise to lower my LDL cholesterol level below 130, which is in the healthy range.  I’m really excited to start this journey because it will lead to a better, healthier version of myself. Don’t forget to follow me on my progress.