Cholesterol is oil-based compound found in body tissues such as your nerves and blood. Lipoproteins in the blood carry cholesterol throughout the body.Though some cholesterol is necessary, too much can cause plaque to build in the arteries, making it difficult for blood to reach the heart.There are two types of cholesterol:high-density lipoprotein or HDL and low-density lipoprotein or LDL.HDL is considered the “good’ cholesterol, and aids the body eliminating LDL cholesterol, which is considered the “bad’ type of cholesterol.”If your LDL cholesterol levels become too high, you are at a much greater risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.However, there are some things you can do to lower LDL cholesterol and raise levels of HDL cholesterol simply by making a few lifestyle changes.
- Increase Fiber Intake
Eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that contain fiber can help to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is best because it acts like a sponge in the digestive tract.Oat bran, oats, barley, lentil, and dried beans are all good sources of soluble fiber.
- Get Moving
Since obesity is a risk factor, exercising is an excellent idea for anyone concerned about high cholesterol. Engaging in regular physical activity also lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol up to ten percent.Try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day at least five days a week. Some excellent forms of exercise for combating high cholesterol include walking briskly, engaging in sports activities, swimming, and riding a bicycle.Of course, you should consult your physician before beginning any new form of physical activity.
- Load Up on Omega-3
Strive to eat food that contains omega-3 fatty acids at least two to three times a week, which helps to increase good HDL cholesterol. Herring, mackerel, canned tuna are some foods that contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.Fish oil and plant sources such as canola, soybeans, walnuts almonds, and flaxseeds are also good sources.However, eating fish itself is the best way to obtain it.Omega-3 can also help to lower triglycerides and reduce blood pressure.Be sure to check with your doctor before making drastic changes to your diet, especially if taking any anti-clotting medication.
- Stay Away From Saturated and Trans Fats
Red meat and most dairy products contain saturated fats. Saturated fats are single bond fats that can raise your LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol.Instead, substitute these food items with low-fat dairy, leaner cuts of meat, and monounsaturated fats such as those found in canola and olive oils.Many foods naturally contain small amounts of trans fat.However, most are formed through an industrial process where hydrogen is added to the vegetable oil of a product.Most fried food, cookies, snack cakes, coffee creamer, margarine, and crackers contain trans fats.Because many doctors consider trans fat to be the worst kind of fat you can eat, it should be avoided if at all possible.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking significantly increases your chances of having a heart attack, especially if you already have high cholesterol. However, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease within minutes of stopping smoking.Your risk of heart disease is cut in half within a year, and after 15 years of quitting smoking; your risk or heart disease is close to the same of someone who has never smoked.
- Take Your Medicine
If you are having trouble controlling your cholesterol levels, your physician may prescribe medication from a group called statins. Statins work to prevent cholesterol from forming which reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.Taking statins can lower your LDL cholesterol from anywhere from 20 % to 50 percent.
Be aware that cholesterol levels can and often do rise with age. Don’t be overly alarmed if your numbers begin to change, as you get older.However, beware that some risk factors include high blood pressure, obesity or having diabetes.Fortunately, you can significantly lower your numbers by watching what you eat, getting proper exercise and following your doctor’s prescribed action plan.