If you have high cholesterol, one thing commonly recommended by doctors is to lose weight. But if you are underweight or are trying to gain muscle mass, this may not be the best plan. Fortunately, there are other ways to lower your cholesterol without losing weight. In fact, some of the steps you can take to healthily gain weight can also help you lower your cholesterol levels, which means that by making some changes to your diet and physical activity levels, you can gain weight while simultaneously protecting your heart.
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Reduce the amount of fat in your diet. To lower your cholesterol, aim to get no more than 30 percent of your calories each day from fat, explains the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Pay attention to what kinds of fat you consume; eliminate trans and saturated fats to 10 percent of your daily calories or less.
Limit your daily cholesterol intake. Keeping the amount of cholesterol in your diet to under 300 mg per day will help you reduce your cholesterol levels.
Make lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains a central part of your diet. Lean protein will help provide you with the amino acids you need to build more muscle. Consuming two servings of fish each week can also help you increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your cholesterol. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, which can also lower your cholesterol levels. Finally, nuts, when consumed in moderation, are high in unsaturated fats, which can also help keep your cholesterol levels low.
Begin an exercise program. According to Dietitian.com, exercise can also help lower your cholesterol. In addition, lifting weight will help you build muscle, which can allow you to increase your weight without adding extra body fat.