Lifestyle Changes To Lower Cholesterol
If your blood cholesterol levels are not within the healthy range for your age and sex, your doctor may recommend heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help you lower or control your high blood cholesterol.
Often, changing behaviors will go a long way toward bringing your numbers into line. Some changes are eating healthy, being physically active, aiming for a healthy weight and quitting smoking
Eating a heart-healthy diet is the first step in lowering cholesterol. That would include reducing saturated fat and trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 5-6% of daily calories and minimizing the amount of trans fat you eat. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your LDL cholesterol and eliminating trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils as of Jan. 1, 2021.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids do not affect LDL cholesterol and have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Increase soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol levels by as much as 10%.
A heart-healthy diet also emphasizes curbing sugary foods and beverages. To be smarter about what you eat, you may need to pay more attention to food labels.
Exercise can also improve cholesterol. It can help raise HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. With your doctor’s okay, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week. Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day can help you begin to lose weight, which can also lower cholesterol. Consider taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour, riding your bike to work or playing a favorite sport. Try incorporating more activity into your daily routine by using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office.
Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly: Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike. Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve. Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.