Cholesterol can be improved by changing lifestyles and boosting the cholesterol-lowering power of medications.
Risk of heart disease and heart attacks is increased with high cholesterol. Cholesterol can be improved with the help of medications. But if lifestyle changes are made first to improve the cholesterol, below five healthy changes might be tried.
If medications are already being taken, these changes can improve cholesterol-lowering effect.
- Consuming heart-healthy foods
Cholesterol can be reduced and health can be improved by making few changes in the diet:
- Saturated fats should be reduced which are found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise total cholesterol. Decreasing the intake of saturated fats can decrease the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol also known as the “bad” cholesterol.
- Trans fats should be eliminated from the diet which are sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Overall cholesterol levels are raised by Trans fats.
- LDL cholesterol is not affected by omega-3 fatty acids. Other heart-healthy benefits may be included such as reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds are included in foods with omega-3 fatty acids.
- The absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream can be decreased by soluble fiber. Foods such as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears have soluble fiber in them.
- Many health benefits attributed to dairy includes whey protein, which is found in dairy products. Whey protein given as a supplement lowers LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure which have been shown in some studies.
- Exercising and increasing physical activity
Cholesterol can be improved by exercise. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol also known as the “good” cholesterol can be raised with the help of moderate physical activity. After the doctor’s approval, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.
Physical activity can be added, even in short intervals many times a day, can help to begin in losing weight. Below should be considered:
- A brisk daily walk should be taken during lunch hour
- Riding bike to work
- Playing a favorite sport
Finding an exercise buddy or joining an exercise group should be considered in order to stay motivated.
- Quit smoking
HDL cholesterol level is improved by quitting smoking. The benefits occur fast:
- Blood pressure and heart rate recovers from the cigarette-induced spike within the 20 minutes of quitting smoking
- Blood circulation and lung function begin to improve within three months of quitting smoking
- Risk of heart disease is half than that of a smoker within a year of quitting smoking
- Losing weight
Few extra pounds if carried contribute to high cholesterol with adding up small changes. If sugary beverages are being drunk, switch to tap water. Air-popped popcorn or pretzels should be a snack but keep calories should be kept track. If something sweet is being craved, try sherbet or candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans.
Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing yard work.
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
Moderate use of alcohol has been connected with higher levels of HDL cholesterol but the benefits aren’t strong enough to suggest alcohol for anyone who is not already drinking.
If drinking alcohol it has to be done so in moderation. For adults who are healthy, one drink a day should be consumed for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men who are aged 65 and younger.
Serious health problems may be led to if too much alcohol is consumed, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough
To lower cholesterol levels healthy lifestyle changes may not be enough. If medication is suggested by the doctor to help lower the cholesterol, take it as prescribed while continuing the lifestyle changes. Medication dose can be kept low with the help of lifestyle changes.