Over 100 million persons in America suffer from high cholesterol levels. It’s a condition that can lead to stroke, heart disease and other health problems. There are ways to improve your cholesterol levels, but let’s first look at what high cholesterol is.
What is “Bad Cholesterol”?
Our bodies need cholesterol to build healthy cells. Cholesterol is a waxy substance made from lipids and protein (otherwise called lipoproteins). Because of the fat content, high levels of cholesterol can result in fatty deposits in your blood vessels.
When this happens, it makes it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. More fatty deposits= less blood flow.
Even though high cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms, it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol or ‘bad cholesterol’ can be inherited but it’s mostly triggered by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Reversing these lifestyle choices can prevent or treat high cholesterol.
How To Improve Your Cholesterol
You can lower your cholesterol without drugs by making some lifestyle changes that could improve your heart health. Sometimes it seems like medication is the only option to reduce your cholesterol levels- but you have healthy alternatives. While medication can definitely help to lower your cholesterol, there are also several ways to lower your cholesterol naturally.
These healthy tips will help to improve your heart health, your risk for chronic disease, and your overall health. It’s worth including these in your daily routine so you can reap these benefits.
Tips To Lower Your Cholesterol
Start a Consistent Workout Routine
Your physical activity levels have a big impact on your cholesterol. Depending on the intensity of your workout, you can raise ‘good’ cholesterol and lower ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Persons with a higher cholesterol reading are recommended to exercise 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. These exercise sessions should include a mixture of moderate to high-intensity resistance training and aerobic exercise.
On the other hand, persons with a lower level of cholesterol can aim for workout sessions with low to moderate-intensity for at least 30 minutes.
If working out isn’t for you, regular activities like sports, running, hiking, etc. will also contribute to lowering cholesterol.
Choose Healthy Fats
Because of the fatty deposits that are caused by high cholesterol, you might think that you should avoid eating fats altogether. But you shouldn’t avoid all fats because not all fats are bad. Some fats will actually lower your cholesterol levels.
Here are the types of fats that you should know about:
Omega-3 Fats- These are found in fatty fish like salmon, and in seeds like flaxseed. It improves your good cholesterol levels and prevent the buildup in your arteries.
Poly and monounsaturated Fats– These are found in plant food like:
- olive oil
- canola oil
- tree nuts- almonds, pecans, walnuts
They naturally reduce the bad cholesterol in your body while providing fiber, essential nutrients, and antioxidants. These benefits also help to protect the body from inflammation.
Start Eating Carbs- Healthy Carbs
Healthy and complex carbs play a big role in reducing your cholesterol naturally. Foods like vegetables, whole grains, and fruits contain soluble fiber that helps to remove cholesterol from the body.
If you’re on a low carb diet but still want the benefits of eating more fiber, fret not.
Research shows that consuming 5-10 grams of fiber per day can lower your total and LDL cholesterol between 5-11 points. Check out this list of high fiber vegetables that you can add to your diet today.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
According to the American Heart Association, women should consume one drink per day while men can consume two. This is because drinking too much can raise the triglyceride levels in your blood-and your triglycerides are measured along with your cholesterol.
Along with possibly increasing your cholesterol, drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk for stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
If and when you do drink, red wine is your best bet as studies show that it has some anti oxidants which are good for heart health. Despite your beverage of choice, it’s important to stick with the drinking recommendations above.
Start Taking Probiotics
More and more research continues to highlight the importance of a healthy gut. A healthy microbiome is essential for digestion, your immune system, and also cholesterol.
The good bacteria found in probiotic foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi can help to lower cholesterol. Kimchi has compounds that can even block it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. When choosing your probiotics, it’s best to watch the salt and sugar content because one of these tend to be high.
Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are highly processed, unsaturated fats that are very common.
They’ve been modified by a process called hydogenation to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable. The following products are usually high in trans fats:
Our bodies tend to process trans fats differently because it increases total cholesterol and LDL, but decreases the beneficial HDL by about 20%.
So the next time you’re in the grocery store, check those nutition labels and ingredients to ensure that it contains no trans fats. More specifically, look for the ingredient ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil because it has trans fats.
Smoking doesn’t only have a negative impact on your lungs, it also increases your risk of heart disease. How does smoking affect your heart health? It changes how your body handles cholesterol.
Smoking appears to increase bad lipoproteins and decrease ‘good’ HDL. It reduces your body’s ability to send cholesteol back to the liver to be stored or broken down. Quitting smoking is great for your lungs and your cholesterol as well.