Presse Santé

Cholesterol: Here are 5 tips to lower your level simply

High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Medicines can help improve your cholesterol levels. But if you prefer to make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol first, try these five healthy changes.

5 changes to lower cholesterol

1. Eat heart-healthy foods

Some changes to your diet can lower cholesterol and improve your heart health:

– Reduce saturated fats

Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise total cholesterol. By lowering your intake of saturated fat, you can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.

– Eliminate trans fats

Trans fats, which are sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarine and store-bought cookies, chips, and cakes. Trans fats increase overall cholesterol levels.

– Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids do not affect LDL cholesterol. But they do have other benefits for heart health, including lowering blood pressure. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

– Increase soluble fiber

Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as rolled oats, beans, Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.

– Add whey protein

Whey protein, found in dairy products, may be responsible for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy products. Studies have shown that whey protein taken in supplement form lowers both LDL and total cholesterol, as well as blood pressure.

2. Exercise almost every day of the week and increase your physical activity.

Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. With your doctor’s approval, increase to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three times a week.

Adding physical activity, even in small intervals several times a day, can help you start losing weight. Think about it:

– Take a daily brisk walk during your lunch hour.
– Cycling to work
– Practice a favorite sport

3. Quit smoking

Quitting smoking improves HDL cholesterol levels. The beneficial effects are quick:

– Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the spike caused by smoking.
– Within three months of quitting, blood circulation and lung function begin to improve.
– Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is cut in half compared to that of a smoker.

4. Lose weight

Gaining a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Small changes add up. If you drink sugary drinks, opt for tap water. If you have a sweet tooth, try sherbet or sweets with little or no fat, like jelly beans.

Find ways to fit more activity into your daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from your desk. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or gardening.

5. Drink alcohol only in moderation

Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to higher levels of HDL cholesterol. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men 65 and older, and up to two drinks a day for men 65 and younger. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious health problems. Including high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough…

Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels. If your doctor recommends medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it. Lifestyle changes can help you keep your medication dosage low.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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