Lifestyle Tips to Lower Cholesterol Healthily
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is by association, keeping your heart healthy. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by your liver and obtained by eating animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. The more you consume these products, the greater the impact on your cholesterol levels. Now, it’s important to know that there are different types of cholesterol, and not all of them are bad. The good cholesterol is technically known as High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and it removes other forms of cholesterol from your blood stream. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is known as the bad cholesterol, particularly when oxidized, it sticks to the walls of your arteries and form plaques, which clog these blood vessels. With that in mind, we’re listing some tips and tricks to help you lower cholesterol with your diet and reduce the risk of heart disease.
1. Consume heart-healthy foods
Here are a few changes you can implement in your diet:
- Reduce saturated fats. Primarily found in red meat and full-fast dairy products, saturated fats is the agent that raises your total cholesterol. When you decrease consumption of said fats, in result, your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol reduces too.
- Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats are also another big contributor to your cholesterol levels. Labelled on products like margarine, store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, these are a big no-no to reduce your cholesterol levels. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by Jan 1, 2021.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, avocados, olives, flaxseeds and nuts don’t affect LDL cholesterol. Instead, they boost heart health and reduce blood pressure.
- Consume Virgin Coconut Oil. The notion of consuming coconut oil to lower “bad” LDL and triglyceride levels might seem confusing, but the properties found in the oil contributes to raising “good” HDL levels.
- Increase soluble fiber. Increase your intake of soluble fiber which functions to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, brussels sprouts, apples and pears.
- Add whey protein. Studies have shown that whey protein, found in dairy products, when consumed as a supplement, can lower both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
2. Exercise on most days of the week and increase your physical activity
Exercising and moderate physical activity lower bad cholesterol levels and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good cholesterol. Consult your doctor first and with his/her permission, work out at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes, three times a week. Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Invite friends to join your or look for an exercise buddy to keep daily motivation consistent. Consider:
- Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
- Riding your bicycle to work
- Playing a favourite sport like badminton
3. Quit smoking
Nothing good comes off of smoking, especially when it is the leading cause for many diseases and conditions, including cholesterol. Following are the benefits that occurs quickly when you quit:
- Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
- Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
- Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker
4. Lose weight
Packing extra kilograms to your weight is not good for your cholesterol either. To lose weight, start by making small changes like switching out sugary drinks for water, snacking on low-fat yoghurt instead of ice cream and kale chips instead of potato chips. You can also incorporate more physical activities into your daily routine like using the stairs instead of lift, take walks during your lunch time and stand more.
5. Drink alcohol only in moderation
While some seek pleasure from drinking, excessive amounts can lead to serious health conditions including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.