You probably already know that keeping cholesterol in check significantly lowers the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Now there’s even more reason to pay attention to your cholesterol: A new report by the Scripps Institute reveals it may also lower the risk of catching COVID-19! Study author Scott B. Hansen, Ph.D., says now’s the time to raise levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and lower the ‘bad’ (LDL). Here are five easy ways to do it …
Cue The Golden Girls.
Unwinding with a positive TV show each night — like The Golden Girls — could produce an 18 percent uptick in blood levels of the “good” HDL — a result better than that of statins! Study co-author Erik Stroes, M.D., explains that adrenal glands use HDL cholesterol to make stress hormones, so when stress levels drop, more HDL stays in your bloodstream. And Utah State University researchers say daily TLC lowers “bad” LDL to cut the risk of clogged arteries by 50 percent.
Save the date!
Mark your calendar with something you’re looking forward to —whether it’s a book release or a visit with family — and you’ll reduce stroke risk by 22 percent, say researchers at the University of Michigan. Turns out having happy plans increases “good” HDL levels!
Choose dark meat.
Flavorful (and less expensive!) chicken drumsticks and thighs brim with vitamin K-2, a tough-to-find nutrient that dampens LDL and blocks plaque buildup inside arteries. In fact, Dutch researchers say people who enjoy 16 oz. of dark chicken weekly lower their risk of heart troubles by 57 percent. Other good K-2 sources: ground beef and egg yolks.
Double up on this spice.
Supplementing with 500 mg. of the spice curcumin daily can lower levels of LDL cholesterol by 33 percent, plus increase levels of HDL cholesterol by 29 percent, nearly double that of statins, studies show. That’s because curcumin changes the way genes control the production of cholesterol. One to try: Now Foods Curcumin (Buy on iHerb, $30). Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
Do some heavy lifting.
Lifting light weights for 20 minutes three times a week can raise HDL and shave up to 36 points off LDL cholesterol, studies suggest. “A little goes a long way,” confirms cardiologist Karol Watson, M.D. No-sweat to-do: Lift water bottles during commercial breaks.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.