High cholesterol levels can raise your risk of heart attacks and heart disease. You can take medicines to improve your cholesterol. However, you can also make lifestyle changes to make sure your cholesterol levels are healthy. If you want to lower your cholesterol, even if you’re already taking medication, these three lifestyle changes could be helpful.
Eat Foods that Are Good for Your Heart
Making some changes to your diet can make your heart healthier and reduce cholesterol. Start by eating foods that are low in saturated fats. Foods high in saturated fat include full-fat dairy products and red meat, so avoiding these foods can lower your cholesterol. In addition, consuming a diet that is low in saturated fats reduces LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This is the “bad” cholesterol that can lead to health issues.
It’s also a good idea to eliminate trans fats, often listed on ingredient labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fats are often used to prepare store-bought cookies, cakes, crackers, and margarine. As of January 1, 2021, the FDA has prohibited partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods. Extra virgin olive oil and cholesterol are often mentioned together since olive oil can replace some of the unhealthier fats in your intake and lower your heart rate.
You should also consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids since these fatty acids don’t negatively affect LDL cholesterol. However, these fatty acids are heart-healthy and can lower your blood pressure. Foods rich in omega-3s, including fatty fish like herring and salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Your diet should also consist of soluble fiber and whey protein if you want to lower your cholesterol. Soluble fiber can lower cholesterol absorption in your bloodstream and is abundant in Brussels sprouts, oatmeal, pears, and kidney beans. Whey protein, which is abundant in dairy products, is one of the ingredients that makes dairy healthy. Studies assert that whey protein can lower LDL cholesterol, overall cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Exercise Often and Manage Your Weight
Exercise can significantly improve your health, including lower your cholesterol. When you’re physically active often, your HDL or high-density level cholesterol will increase –HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol. Consult with your doctor, and if you’re cleared to work out, exercise for at least half an hour five times a week. Or engage in aerobic activity for 20 minutes at least three times a week. Even if you engage in physical activity for short periods of time every day, you can lose weight and keep your cholesterol levels healthy. For example, try taking a walk during your lunch break or riding your bike to work if your office is close to home. It may also be helpful to find a friend or loved one who is willing to exercise with you to keep you motivated.
It’s vital to keep your weight under control when you’re trying to lower your cholesterol. Extra pounds can make LDL cholesterol levels higher. Keep track of the calories in your meals and snacks. Foods like air-popped popcorn and sherbet can satisfy your salty or sweet cravings with very little or no fat. In addition to eating healthy snacks, try incorporating more practical physical activity into your day, such as cooking or parking further away from your office so you’ll have to walk more to get into work.
Stop Smoking and Drinking
When you stop smoking, you’ll improve your HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, you’ll see the benefits of kicking this harmful habit right away. After just 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure recover from the spike in blood pressure induced by smoking. After three months of being smoke-free, your lung function and blood circulation will start to improve. After you’ve stopped smoking for a year, your risk of heart disease is 50% less than if you were still a smoker.
Drinking alcohol can be harmful when keeping your cholesterol low, so it’s important to enjoy alcohol in moderation. Drinking moderately can raise your HDL cholesterol, but these benefits aren’t significant enough to suggest that you start drinking alcohol if you normally don’t indulge. A healthy amount of alcohol is around one drink per day for women and older 65 and older and two drinks per day for men younger than 65.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are times when maintaining a healthy lifestyle may not be enough to keep your cholesterol levels low. Therefore, if your doctor suggests taking medication to balance your cholesterol levels, you should take medicine as prescribed and continue making lifestyle improvements, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. These adjustments help keep your medical dosage low and prevent the need for additional prescriptions in the future.