Guest post by Evolve MMA, Asia’s premier championship brand for martial arts. It has the most number of World Champions on the planet. Named as the #1 ranked martial arts organization in Asia by CNN, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, Evolve MMA is the top rated Martial Arts gym in Singapore.
Many of us think cholesterol is a bad thing due to its association with heart disease, but the truth is a bit more complicated.
Your body actually uses this fat-like, waxy substance to create new cell tissues, protect your nerves, and to produce some hormones. A healthy liver produces all the cholesterol your body uses for these functions and your body also gets cholesterol from the food you eat.
To better understand how cholesterol works, we need to differentiate between the two types.
This is the bad cholesterol we are constantly told about in the media. Too much of it can clog arteries and eventually head to heart disease.
II. High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
This is the “good” type of cholesterol. It’s considered to be good because it removes excess cholesterol from your bloodstream. Having a high level of HDL is great for your health. Matter of fact, every point rise in your HDL level reduces your risk of dying from a heart attack by six percent.
Improving your cholesterol levels
While there are other factors like your family history, gender, and age that can adversely affect your cholesterol level, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make that will help you get your LDL and HDL levels where they need to be.
Here are 3 simple ways to improve your cholesterol levels:
1) Train martial arts
Martial arts classes are a fun way to get healthy. When you train, you can burn up to 1,000 calories for every hour. That a lot more calories than you would burn running for an hour (400 calories) or lifting weights at the gym (200 calories).
How does burning so many calories improve your cholesterol levels?
It’s simple. Losing weight is one of the best things you can do if you want to lower your LDL levels. Losing five to ten percent of your weight will reduce your bad cholesterol levels. If you are overweight, it is even more important that you get down to a healthy weight so that your LDL levels go down.
Martial arts classes are also more interesting than these other activities. That makes it easier to stay committed to working out. It’s not something you will have to force yourself to do just because you want to improve your cholesterol levels. It’s something that you will look forward to every day.
When you work up a healthy sweat, your brain releases dopamine which is your body’s feel-good drug.
Training regularly also gives you an opportunity to take your mind off things that are bothering you in your professional or personal life. That combined with the great workout you get helps you reduce your stress levels.
2) Eat properly
Burning 1,000 calories every time you attend a martial arts class is one half of the equation, but you need to combine that with a healthy diet for best results. Lower your intake of carbohydrates, while increasing your protein and vegetable intake. It’s best to stay away from sugary drinks as well when you are trying to lose weight.
By eating certain foods regularly, you can naturally improve your cholesterol levels. Here are a few things you should aim to do with your daily diet.
A. Consume lots of fruits and vegetables
A healthy diet consists of lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. These food items have many valuable nutrients, as well as low-fat content. They also improve the flavor of the food you eat. Vegetables and fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Aim for a few cups of each daily.
B. Eat more healthy fats
While most of us think about fatty foods as something that’s bad for us, there are some fats that are actually good for you.
Common sources of healthy fat include:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Fat in organic and grass-fed meat
When possible, make sure you substitute bad fats with good fats. Eat more fish, cook with olive oil instead of seed oil, such as canola oil and sunflower oil.
C. Prepare your meals in a healthy way
The healthiest ways to cook food is by baking, roasting, and broiling. Avoid fried foods as much as you can. Remove the skin if consuming poultry. Use non-stick pans so you can avoid the need to use seed oils when pan-broiling or stir-frying meals.
Also, make a habit of ordering meals that are prepared in a healthy way when you dine out.
D. Increase your fiber intake
Eating a healthy amount of fiber-rich foods will also improve your cholesterol levels. Good sources of fiber include:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
3) Drink alcohol responsibly
Don’t worry; we’re not going to forbid you from enjoying your favorite drinks. Matter of fact, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol regularly, especially red wine, can help you achieve higher good cholesterol levels. The research is still in its infancy, so you shouldn’t start drinking if you don’t already partake simply because you want to improve your cholesterol levels.
Keep in mind, consuming too much alcohol regularly often leads to serious issues like liver disease, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
When we say a moderate amount of alcohol, we mean up to two drinks a day for men younger than 65, and one drink a day for men over 65 and women of all ages.
These are just some of the things you can do to improve your cholesterol levels. By combining martial arts training with a healthy diet, you won’t just reduce your LDL levels; you also improve your quality of life.