There are some effective ways to lower cholesterol levels and improve your heart’s health. However, to incorporate these methods, we must first understand what cholesterol is and how it affects us. Cholesterol is a natural component present in the blood that supports the normal function of several necessary bodily activities, like cell membrane formation and hormone production. Although some cholesterol is needed in the body, massive levels can be dangerous and even diagnosed as hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia. This can be a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
The liver normally produces all of the cholesterol that your body needs. The Cholesterol is then transported to different parts of the body by complex particles called lipoproteins. The two types of lipoproteins that aid in the transportation of cholesterol are LDL (Low-density cholesterol) and HDL (High-density cholesterol).
Low-density lipoproteins (LD) help transport the majority of cholesterol in normal human blood plasma. If there is an accumulation, it can lead to fatty deposits building up on the walls of your arteries, causing them to narrow and stiffen. High levels of LDL cholesterol reduce blood flow and increase a person’s risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Hence, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “bad cholesterol”.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) take up LDL cholesterol and other fats from your blood vessels to the liver. Your liver breaks it down and disposes of the excess cholesterol by converting it to bile. HDL cholesterol is usually called the “good cholesterol”. Higher HDL levels help reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood and are linked to a reduced risk of a heart attack and/or stroke.
In this blog post, we share 5 tips to incorporate into your lifestyle to help lower your cholesterol levels and improve your heart health!
6 Natural and Effective Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
Several factors can increase your risk for heart disease. Some of them you can control while the others, not so much. These factors include your genes, age, gender, diet, and lifestyle. Although changes in diet and lifestyle are key contributors to lowering your cholesterol levels, there is often a genetic reason for your cholesterol levels. Learning about them can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
You can lower your cholesterol levels by switching to a healthy and active lifestyle. When you quit smoking, exercise, and eat healthily, it not only lowers your cholesterol but improves your overall health.
Although implementing these lifestyle changes can be beneficial, sometimes doctors still need to prescribe certain medications to help lower cholesterol. Please speak to your health care provider to recommend the right solution for you. Below we explore some natural and effective ways to lower cholesterol without medication.
1. Losing Weight Can Help Lower Cholesterol
Losing weight is key to decreasing your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. . Weight loss may also help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Along with a healthy diet, Weight loss achieved by exercise can be even more effective at increasing HDL levels, particularly if you’re obese. Weight loss may also help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to determine what a healthy weight is for you and if a weight loss plan is needed. You can seek the help of a dietician to help you create a weight loss plan that is best for you.
2. Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise must be a crucial part of your plan in combating cholesterol. Cardio exercises are quite useful as they raise your heart rate. Working out frequently helps reduce triglycerides and boosts HDL cholesterol levels. It also lowers cholesterol by moving LDL cholesterol from the blood to the liver— which either converts it to bile for digestion or breaks it down for disposal as waste.
The good news is you don’t need to signup for a pricey gym membership to get started. You can try out low-impact exercises that require minimal or no equipment. Some examples include;
- Brisk Walking
3. Ditch Fatty Foods and Switch to a Healthy Diet
A contributing factor often linked to high cholesterol is a diet high in saturated fat. Saturated fats are typically found in foods that come from animal sources, but can also be found in processed food.
Avoid eating too much:
- Pastries like pies, sausages
- Fatty meat like beef, pork
- butter, margarine
- Dairy products like cheese and milk.
- Cakes, doughnuts, and biscuits
- Avoid sugary and processed foods
You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat. To cut out saturated fat, switch to a diet filled with fruits, fiber, vegetables, and whole grains.
You should eat more:
- Fish rich in Omega-3 like mackerel and salmon
- brown rice
- Wheat bread
- nuts and seeds
- fruits and vegetables
4. Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Adequate sleep is equally as essential as a healthy diet in tackling high cholesterol. Depriving yourself of sleep can be detrimental to your health. It can adversely affect your immune system, metabolism, and even your ability to concentrate. Sleep deprivation is also linked with increased cholesterol levels such as high triglycerides and can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.
You can do to improve the quality of your sleep by making your bedroom comfortable and noise-free, as well as creating a relaxing pre-bedtime routine. Aim for about 7 or more hours of good-quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. If you experience difficulty sleeping, it’s best to contact a professional/healthcare provider for help.
5. Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Quit smoking
Smoking is bad for your health, heck it’s even spelled out on the packaging, so it comes as no surprise that it is hard on your lungs and arteries. It can cause inflammation which can increase the build-up of plaque— a waxy substance composed of cholesterol, fibrin, and calcium.
Smoking creates a double blow effect as it increases LDL and triglyceride levels while concurrently lowering HDL levels (“good” cholesterol). This can negatively impact your arteries making it harder for your heart to pump blood.
HDL levels can improve just within a few weeks of quitting. Within a few years, your risk of a heart attack will also lessen significantly.
6. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
It is best to limit your alcohol intake as it can amplify your triglyceride levels. Drinking excessive alcohol may lead to high blood pressure, and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular problems like heart failure.