If you struggle to keep your blood cholesterol level under control or have to take cholesterol-lowering medications to keep up, you might want to make some changes in your lifestyle. You’d be surprised to learn just how incorporating a few healthy habits in your routine can help you greatly reduce your cholesterol levels!
Additionally, these healthy changes may keep you away from taking those medications completely, or in cases where you still may be required to take the medicines, these healthy habits will enhance their effect.
Here are five healthy lifestyle changes to lower your blood cholesterol level and hence, reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
1. Eat heart-healthy foods
Do not let years of unhealthy eating stop you from making a change in your diet! If you want to reduce your cholesterol level and improve your heart health, consider eating healthier fats. Healthier fat intake means less than 7 percent of your total calories should be coming from saturated fat.
Thus, you should consider eating leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy. Moreover, consume monounsaturated fats, found in olive and canola oils. On the other hand, eliminate trans fats from your diet as they increase the risk of heart attacks by increasing the ‘bad’ cholesterol and reducing the ‘good’ cholesterol.
This means avoiding fried foods, cookies, snacks, cakes etc.
In addition to this, stock up on eating foods like walnuts, ground flax seeds, almonds, and some fish – such as salmon – as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have great heart benefits. Also, increase your intake of soluble fiber by consuming foods, like oats, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils. Whey protein is also beneficial for lowering blood cholesterol level.
2. Up your physical activity game
Exercise can improve your cholesterol level so make sure you do some kind of physical activity for at least 5 days a week. Moderate physical activity can increase the level of ‘good’ cholesterol.
Taking a brisk walk during your lunch break daily, playing your favorite sport, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a HUGE difference. Just make sure whatever changes you decide to make, stick by them. You might want to join an exercise group or exercise with your friends to stay motivated.
3. Say no to smoking
If you smoke, it is time to stop this habit right away. When you quit smoking, you will improve your ‘good’ cholesterol level. The benefits start in no time; within 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, within one year the risk of heart disease is reduced to half that of a smoker, and within 15 years, it would be similar to a person who has never smoked.
Aren’t these reasons enough to quit smoking now?
4. Shed some pounds
Even if you are a bit overweight, it contributes to high cholesterol level. Thus, you should consider losing a little weight; even only 5 to 10 percent can help.
Evaluate your daily routine; what you eat, how much you eat, frequency and duration of exercise, and challenges to weight loss etc. Eat healthily, work out regularly, and overcome the weight loss challenges to get fit and healthy.
5. Do not drink too much alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol poses serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke. So, if you drink alcohol do it in moderation. Moderate consumption of alcohol can increase your level of ‘good’ cholesterol – but that does not mean you should start drinking if you do not already.
Making these lifestyle changes will keep your blood cholesterol level in control. Sometimes the results will not be immediate though, so do not get disappointed. Continuing on the healthy path is the key!