High cholesterol can put you at risk for serious health issues like heart attack and stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and eating foods good for the heart are key to maintaining healthy cholesterol. These examples of exercises and recipes can help you achieve healthy cholesterol levels.
The body needs cholesterol to help regulate many metabolic processes, but having too much puts you are at risk for health issues. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good, because it helps to move cholesterol to your liver so it can be eliminated from the body. Having proper levels of HDL will prevent plaque build up in your arteries.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as bad cholesterol, because having high levels of LDL can lead to a variety of health concerns. The goal is to maintain certain levels of each, ensuring your bad cholesterol levels do not escalate too high, and your good cholesterol levels do not dip too low.
How exercise improves cholesterol
The key to improving your cholesterol is to simply get moving for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Exercise raises your HDL, or good cholesterol, which in turn helps to eliminate the bad kind.
Exercises for maintaining healthy cholesterol
Exercising for your cholesterol health can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, dancing to your favorite songs, or some easy exercises you can do anywhere. A combination of these can quickly add up to your goal of 30 minutes a day.
Some cardiovascular exercises, such as high knees, jumping jacks, or running in place, can be done for short spurts with small rests in between. Strength based exercises, such as the push-up and squat, also count toward that daily goal and have other benefits too. A combination of strength and aerobic exercises is ideal.
High knees are similar to running in place, but you pull your knees up high in front of your body at the same time. If you experience joint pain from running or other high impact cardio exercises, you can alter the move to walking in place while pulling the knees up high.
To perform a push-up, start face down with your arms extended below you, creating a straight line with your body. Your arms should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your hands in alignment with your chest. Slowly lower your body towards the ground and back up, pushing with your arms and chest.
To begin a squat, step your legs out into a wide stance, slightly further than hip width apart. Keep your back straight, bend your knees, and lower your bottom as if you are sitting in a chair. Focus on keeping your knees aligned with your ankles, and push up from the heels to engage your glutes.
How food impacts cholesterol
What you eat plays a major role in your cholesterol levels. The best way to improve your cholesterol levels is to eat foods that lower LDL, and avoid foods that increase your LDL levels.
Recipes for maintaining healthy cholesterol
Food that are high in pectin, rich in fiber, and contain omega-3s can all work to lower those LDL levels. The following recipes include a full day of eating that could easily be incorporated into a meal plan for maintaining healthy cholesterol.
Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffin with Turkey Sausage
This gluten-free healthy muffins recipe uses no flour, no sugar, and no oil. Inspired by this recipe, you can tweak it slightly to add LDL lowering chopped apples.
- Old-fashioned oats (1.5 cups ground, 1 cup whole, + 2 tbsp)
- 2–3 large overripe bananas
- 2 large eggs (or flax eggs)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3/4 cup milk (or non-dairy milk)
- 2 tsp real vanilla
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 chopped apple
Preheat oven to 325°F. Toast oats 4-6 minutes then let cool. Divide oats into portions as listed. Turn oven heat up to 350°F. Blend 1.5 cup oats in food processor until they reach a rough, flour-like consistency. Mash bananas well. Add eggs, honey, milk and vanilla. Mix to combine. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Fold in chopped apple. Scoop into tin, and sprinkle tops with the 2 tbsp of reserved oats. Bake at 350°F for 20-23 minutes.
For a protein source that does not add dangerous saturated fats, add 3 links of turkey sausage to your breakfast with one of these healthy muffins.
Lunch: Summer Salad with Chicken
This tasty salad has fruits that are rich in pectin and contains nuts, foods that have shown to lower bad cholesterol as well.
1 cup mixed greens
½ cup chopped strawberries
2oz walnuts or almonds
1 tbsp oil and vinegar
4oz grilled chicken breast
For chicken, use a skillet that can easily be transferred from the stove top to the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Sear boneless, skinless chicken breast in pan using a non-stick spray for 2 minutes on each side, then move to oven for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up salad ingredients. When chicken is done, chop up and add on top of salad.
Dinner: Baked Salmon with Three-Bean Salad
Salmon is full of healthy fats, specifically the Omega-3 LDL lowering kind. It is easy to prepare, making it a great staple for dinner. When combined with fiber filled beans, this dinner will help you win the battle against bad cholesterol.
6oz salmon fillet
2 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp Italian herbs, garlic powder and pepper for seasoning
For three-bean salad:
1 can cut green beans
1 can wax green beans
¾ cup can kidney beans, rinsed
¼ cup chopped onion
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp canola oil
⅛ tsp pepper
For salmon, preheat oven to 400. Line baking dish with foil, large enough to fold over the top of the salmon. Coat with cooking spray, then place salmon on top. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil, then sprinkle with seasonings. Fold foil over the top and cook for 12-15 minutes, until it flakes a part with a fork.
For three-bean salad, combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the other ingredients, then stir all in together. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.
For more information
Pursue a lifestyle that benefits your health. For more information about maintaining your cholesterol, contact MississippiCare today at (866) 608-1834 to speak with a healthcare professional.