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3 Ways to Reduce High Cholesterol

My boyfriend was recently told he has high cholesterol. He’s only 29! What steps can he take to reduce it?

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Zoltan Rona, MD

Zoltan Rona, MD

Cholesterol is a fat primarily regulated by the liver. Dangerously high levels of it can be a result of poor dietary choices, inactivity or heredity, and can be a risk factor for heart disease. Luckily, most people can lower cholesterol to a normal level without drugs by watching their diet and doing regular vigorous exercise.
Avoid sugar, trans fats, and fried and refined carbohydrates, which are connected to high cholesterol. If your boyfriend has heart disease, or if his cholesterol is dangerously high, he should eliminate red meat entirely. If not, limit red meat to once a week. Supplement your diet with garlic or artichoke extracts, along with cholesterol-lowering foods, such as oat bran cereal, apples and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like mackerel, sardines and salmon. Use extra-virgin olive oil in salads to further reduce cholesterol.
When your boyfriend is discussing this condition with his doctor, he should inquire about supplements. Beta-sitosterol, a derivative of vitamin B5 called pantethine, curcumin and red yeast rice can help lower cholesterol levels, and can be found at health-food stores and pharmacies.

Dr. Zoltan Rona (@drzoltanrona) practises complementary medicine in Toronto, edits The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and is the author of Rheumatoid Arthritis and the bestseller Return to the Joy of Health.

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Julie Daniluk, Nutritionist

Julie Daniluk, Nutritionist

High cholesterol is linked to inflammation of the arteries and heart disease. It’s important for your boyfriend to realize that he needs to take care of his heart with healthy foods. Foods in bright colours such as red, orange and purple contain nutrients that will fend off inflammation and protect the cardiovascular system from damage. Cherries are a beneficial food for your heart. They contain quercetin, a plant flavonoid that has the ability to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and free-radical damage to your arteries. Apples contain compounds known as proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol-also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol-in the blood.
Integrate flaxseeds into your diet. They are high in soluble fibres, which may prevent LDL from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Greens such as Swiss chard can also help. They contain betalain, known to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Research shows betalain  may lower LDL chol­esterol levels.

Toronto-based certified nutritionist Julie Daniluk (@juliedaniluk) co-hosts the reality cooking show Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network and is the author of Meals That Heal Inflammation.

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Amanda Vogel, Fitness Instructor

Amanda Vogel, Fitness Instructor

Cholesterol levels can be lowered with lifestyle changes that include physical activity. Two possible contributors to high cholesterol are being overweight and living a sedentary life. Exercise does double duty on both these risk factors: it helps with weight loss and can also reduce harmful cholesterol. Being active has also been shown to elevate levels of “good” cholesterol-called high-density lipoprotein cholesterol- in your body, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Controlling unhealthy cholesterol is especially important for young people: one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at three groups of men ages 18 to 39 and found that those with high cholesterol had an increased long-term risk of heart disease compared to their counterparts with lower levels. Your boyfriend should work up to doing about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week.

Amanda Vogel (@amandavogel), MA human kinetics, is a Vancouver-based certified fitness instructor and author of numerous books, including Baby Boot Camp: The New Mom’s 9-Minute Fitness Solution.