High cholesterol is a common issue that can reduce life expectancy and lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Today, more than 1 in 3 adults (85.6 million) live with one or more types of cardiovascular disease. In addition to being the first and fifth leading causes of death, heart disease and stroke contribute to dangerous diseases and disabilities.
The good news is that you can prevent and even reverse high blood cholesterol levels. Of course, meds can help regulate your cholesterol but it’s always better to normalize them naturally. We’ve collected five good tips that will help you improve your cholesterol levels and stay healthy and happy.
1. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help you boost your cholesterol since it increases the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It’s also called “good” cholesterol. If you have heart issues or are overweight, talk to your doctor before starting to exercise since it can be dangerous. Your physician will make a plan for your workouts that will be best for you.
Usually, working up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week helps lower bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels.
2. Don’t abuse alcohol
Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with high levels of good cholesterol. However, the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol to people who don’t already drink. If you consume alcohol, don’t abuse it. Drinking alcohol in moderation will also help you maintain overall health.
For healthy people, moderate alcohol consumption 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. Keep in mind that alcohol abuse can cause dangerous health issues like high heart failure, blood pressure, and strokes.
3. Consider eating healthy foods that improve cholesterol
Some changes in your diet are one of the best options for high cholesterol treatment. Here are some tips to help you improve your diet and make your heart and vessels healthier:
- Eliminate foods containing trans fats from your diet. Trans fats are listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”. They are contained in margarine, store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes. Trans fats can increase bad cholesterol levels and negatively affect your blood vessels.
- Reduce foods high in saturated fats. Saturated fats are often contained in red meat and full-fat dairy products. They can also increase your cholesterol levels.
- Increase your consumption of soluble fiber. Eating soluble fiber will reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your blood. Soluble fiber is primarily contained in kidney beans, oatmeal, Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.
- Consume more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t impact your total cholesterol levels. However, they have other great health benefits like lowering blood pressure which will help you keep your vessels and heart strong and healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in mackerel, salmon, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
- Consider eating whey protein. Whey protein is contained in dairy products and possesses many powerful health benefits. According to numerous studies, whey protein in the form of supplements can reduce both bad cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
4. Give up smoking
Giving up smoking lowers your bad cholesterol level. Moreover, the benefits appear quickly. Within 20 minutes of giving up smoking, your blood pressure and heart rate normalize.
Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function will boost, and finally, within a year of giving up, your risk of heart disease will be significantly lower.
5. Lose weight
Having even a few extra pounds always leads to high bad cholesterol levels. That’s why weight loss is another good method to lower your bad cholesterol. If you like to drink sugary soda, or snack on popcorn or pretzels, try to change your dietary habits.
However, if you crave something sweet, try to eat sherbet or jelly beans instead of cakes and chocolate candies. Described above tips will all help you lower your BMI index, so consider trying them.
Sometimes, lifestyle changes are not enough to normalize cholesterol levels. If your doctor recommends meds to help reduce your cholesterol levels, take them as prescribed while continuing your lifestyle changes.