- A cardiologist has shared four lifestyle choices he makes to try and keep cholesterol low.
- Too much of a “bad” type of cholesterol can clog arteries, putting people at risk for heart disease.
- Dr. Ali Haider said thto he limits the amount of meat he eats and tries to get enough sleep.
A cardiologist has shared four lifestyle choices he makes to try and keep his cholesterol levels low.
Too much of so-called LDL cholesterol – which is considered a “bad” type – can block arteries. This puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two out of five American adults have high cholesterol, according to the CDC.
Dr. Ali Haider, an interventional cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, said every adult should get a cholesterol test to find out their level, and he does it every year.
Haider, 44, who has a “really good” cholesterol profile, said blood cholesterol levels depend on diet and how well the liver removes it from the blood, which may be due to genetic. This is why some people have high blood cholesterol levels despite eating a healthy diet, he said.
Haider, who has no family history of high cholesterol, makes food and lifestyle choices to control his cholesterol. He added that diets and exercise programs for heart health should be individualized.
Eat meat only twice a month
Haider ate meat five times a week until two years ago, but has since reduced his intake of high-fat animal protein.
Haider now eats meat about twice a month and chooses low-fat grass-fed steak or lean chicken. Research suggests that grass-fed beef contains less fat than grain-fed beef and also contains healthier types of fats like omega-3s.
Haider replaced steak with fish, such as salmon, and also enjoys vegetarian dishes containing pistachios or almonds.
The saturated fats in meat protein can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol. “Think of saturated fats as fats that are somehow in a solid state at room temperature, for example: meat protein, coconut oil, ghee, and palm oil,” did he declare.
Unsaturated fats, like those in oily fish or nuts, can lower “bad” cholesterol, he said.
Eat foods like oats and beans that bind cholesterol
Haider said minimally processed whole grains — rather than highly refined grains like white rice or bread — as well as beans bind to cholesterol so the body can’t absorb it.
Haider says he often eats oats. He and his wife are also “big fans” of beans, which he never liked.
“You can actually make it quite tasty,” he said.
Haider said exercise is “super important” because it can lower cholesterol regardless of diet.
Every day, Haider makes sure to walk quickly through the hospital and chooses to take the stairs instead of the elevators. He also tries to use his Peloton bike for at least 20 minutes twice a week, although he said expensive equipment or gyms aren’t essential.
The American Heart Association recommends people get two and a half hours of “moderate” physical activity a week, such as dancing or gardening, or 75 minutes of “vigorous” exercise, such as skipping, running or swimming , did he declare.
Haider tries to get a routine for getting enough sleep. It can lower “bad” cholesterol, he said, citing research.
To do this, Haider aims to eat at a reasonable time, and avoids caffeine and screens at night.