Ten Tips To Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol can be due to your genetic makeup, a diet high in saturated fat and even by being overweight. If you are recently diagnosed with high cholesterol, here are ten tips to lower cholesterol:
1 Track Your Cholesterol Levels Regularly
According to the American Heart Association, if your total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL, your risk of a heart attack is double that of someone whose cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL. Most doctors would like to see the total cholesterol under 200 mg/dL, that is, LDL (bad cholesterol) below 130 and HDL (good cholesterol) above 40. By monitoring your cholesterol levels, you can help manage the right balance of cholesterol levels.
2 Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about cholesterol. Bear in mind that cholesterol is made and used by our bodies to perform certain vital functions. It seems that low HDL (good cholesterol) levels may increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat in most foods is blamed for causing high cholesterol.
It is important to find out available treatment options – both conventional medicine and alternative therapies so you can make an informed decision. The fact remains that your choice of conventional or alternative medicine depends on your current cholesterol profile, your health in general and your lifestyle. There are some people who are comfortable taking statin drugs to lower their cholesterol while others will do everything they can to avoid them. It is very important to inform your doctor of any therapies that you decide to use.
3 Lose Weight
If you are overweight, losing some of it may help lower your cholesterol level. Excessive weight can disrupt the normal metabolism of dietary fat. By losing just 5 to 10 pounds is sufficient to see some improvement in your cholesterol level. Do not embark on a crash diet but instead follow a slow and steady loss of half to 1 pound weekly. If you combine this with regular exercise, you may reduce your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
4 Include Regular Exercise As Part of Your Lifestyle
Set aside 30 minutes each day to do some brisk walking or moderate physical activities such as aerobics, cycling, running or swimming. This is helpful in reducing cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
5 Distinguish Between The Good & Bad Fats
Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats can reduce LDL and triglycerides while raising HDL. This type of good fats can be found in avocado, olive and peanut oils and most nuts (especially almonds and walnuts). Besides, these unsaturated fats counteract inflammation in our arteries and prevent arterial damage. Limit your consumption of saturated fats (found mainly in animal products like butter, cheese, full fat milk and fatty meats) and trans-fats (margarine, salad dressing, pastries, cakes and snack foods) as they can raise your cholesterol level.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another group of good fats. They can be found in fish like salmon, mackerel, Albacore tuna and sardines. Apparently, they are able to reduce VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and triglycerides. However to reap the benefits of omega-3, you still have to cut back your consumption of saturated fats.
6 Increase Fiber Intake
It is a well-known fact that compared to meat lovers, vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease. Plant foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are rich in fiber. There are primarily two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps to lower the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
7 Eat Complex Carbohydrates
Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, root vegetables, oats, barley and whole grain bread are all complex carbohydrates that are not only rich in fiber but also contain loads of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. They are helpful in lowering cholesterol. Try to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates like white bread and biscuits which can increase your risk of heart disease.
8 Drink Green Tea
A healthy alternative to soft drinks, cordials and other beverages laced with sugar, is green tea. Research has shown that it helps to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol.
9 Get Rid of Stress
Stress and its associated emotions like tension, anxiety, anger, depression cause the release of chemicals that constrict arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart, increase blood pressure and heart rate. These reactions together with elevated cholesterol can set the pace for a heart attack.
To relieve stress, simply remove yourself from the situation by going for a short walk, breathing deeply, doing a few stretches, meditating or listening to light music. This will enable you to relax and calm down.
10 Quit Smoking
Smoking not only lowers HDL, the good cholesterol but it also promotes a major risk for heart disease.