What 290K People With High Cholesterol Told Us About Their Lifestyle

Apr 24

Over the past few years at Kilo Health working as a nutritionist, I had a chance to consult hundreds of people who seek help with their cholesterol levels. Even though the people come from very different backgrounds, the story seemed to be similar most of the time. 

To confirm my suspicions (and the scientific research that points toward it), I’ve asked more than 290 thousand people with high cholesterol several questions about their lifestyle.

People with high cholesterol have similar habits

In the Kilo Health survey of 292,272 people with high cholesterol levels, the majority (74.5%) said they love eating meat, less than 30% of people eat meat rarely or not at all, and 67.3% of people eat fish. 

The majority of people (89.9%) surveyed said they use cars as their primary means of transportation. 

79.92% of people mentioned that they consider themselves beginners at working out. 

45.8% also said they drink alcohol occasionally, and 28.5% said that they do it at least once a week.

What should they do to get better?

High consumption of foods that are high in dietary fats increases the concentration of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood. It can be saturated fat, trans fat, or combined foods that are high in unhealthy fats (e.g. eggs with fried bacon).

Having high cholesterol leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels of “bad” cholesterol is harmful because it can form fatty buildups that sticks to the inside walls of your arteries. This makes them less flexible and leads to an inflammatory process called atherosclerosis. 

Such progressive buildup of cholesterol and other materials thickens, hardens, and narrows your blood vessels. As a result, the risk of heart attack and stroke increases. 

There are several things you can do to address that.

High cholesterol

1. Eat plant-forward meals 

While meat (especially lean meat) does not need to be eliminated from your diet altogether. You don’t need to have it with every meal, as it increases your blood cholesterol levels.

Include more plant-based ingredients in daily meals. Healthy plant-based oils, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits might improve cholesterol levels in those suffering from hypercholesterolemia. 

2. Eat more whole grains and legumes

While you are at it, eating a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat is one of the best things you can do to lower your cholesterol levels and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Whole grains and legumes have the potential to lower the concentration of “bad” cholesterol in the blood. 

Firstly, dietary fiber in whole grains and legumes has the potential to regulate plasma lipid levels. It has been shown that soluble fiber increases the rate of bile acid excretion, diverting hepatic cholesterol for bile acid production and thereby reducing total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations. 

In addition, short-chain fatty acids produced from soluble fiber fermentation may also inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver. 

3. Drink black tea

Several studies show that black tea consumption reduces LDL cholesterol levels, compared to a group that drank a placebo beverage. Consumption of black tea results in improving LDL cholesterol classification from borderline high to near-optimal/above optimal. 

Researchers believe that catechins, a type of antioxidant found in tea, are responsible for its cholesterol-lowering effect.

4. Be mindful of your beverages

Don’t forget that tea is not the only drink you should enjoy – drinking water constantly is just as important.

Speaking of drinks, as you know from the survey results, alcohol is one of the common denominators among people who have high cholesterol. 

Try to reduce it as much as possible to keep your heart healthy. After all, when we drink, we crave fatty foods, and eating unhealthy meals is one of the causes of heart issues.

5. Reintroduce movement into your day

Active daily movement goes hand in hand with nutrition. It boosts your metabolism, reduces stress, and improves your mood. All of these factors help to stay healthy, avoid stress eating, and stay within a healthy range.

All you have to do is try to be more active for 30 minutes per day. 

As you can see from our survey data, most of the people who have high blood cholesterol do not spend that much time moving – their primary means of transportation is a car, and they are just starting out to exercise.

Luckily, you don’t need to get a gym membership to work out. Start with parking your car a block away from your destination – you will notice improvements in your health in less than a month.

Simple as that!

Care to learn more about getting healthier? Check out my previous article about key nutrition trends that will shape our eating habits in the future.

Kristina Zalnieraite
Head of Nutrition and Wellness at Kilo Health
Registered and licensed dietitian on her way to Ph.D. in Medical Science and Nutrition. Helped more than 30,000 people eat healthier. Her ideal way to recharge is long walks and quick runs.

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