High cholesterol has many causes but most commonly results from poor lifestyle choices like smoking, inactivity, and unhealthy diets. Although in some cases, high cholesterol may be caused by separate medical conditions, like diabetes. High cholesterol can easily lead to heart attacks and heart disease and should, therefore, be managed as soon as possible. There are several types of medication that can treat the condition but lifestyle changes can be just as effective in many cases. Here are some things you can do to lower your LDL cholesterol levels:
Check Your Fat Intake
Our bodies naturally produce LDL cholesterol, which is the so-called ‘bad’ type. The amount produced naturally in your liver is just about as much as we need to operate normally. As we consume more saturated and trans fats, the level of LDL cholesterol increases, and that can be harmful to your health. You should, therefore, consider taking less of these types of fats. Instead, go for unsaturated fats and consume them in moderation. Great sources of unsaturated fats include olives and olive oil, canola oil, avocados, and tree nuts.
Consume Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is a group of different compounds that are not digested by humans. However, once they reach your small intestine, soluble fibers will bind to cholesterol particles and prevent them from entering your bloodstream, thereby reducing the level of cholesterol in your body. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oatmeal, apples, beans, and pears.
Exercising is a great way to get healthy. It helps to reduce your body weight and makes you fitter. Another advantage of working out is the fact it will reduce your levels of bad LDL cholesterol and increase your levels of good HDL cholesterol. If you are overweight, you can start by taking walks around the neighborhood. Other simple activities include riding your bike to work. As you get fitter, you should aim to exercise for about 150 minutes a week, as recommended by the NHS.
Smoking has many adverse health effects, but the good thing is that you can reverse these effects almost immediately once you stop smoking. Studies have shown that good cholesterol levels will increase over time after you quit. In addition, your blood pressure and heart rate will recover very soon after quitting cigarettes. In a year, your risk of getting heart disease will be halved.
Eat Plant Proteins
You don’t have to go full vegetarian in order to enjoy a healthy level of cholesterol. You can simply increase your intake of plant proteins. These have all the properties necessary to lower your level of LDL cholesterol. They are very low in saturated fats, high in soluble fibers, and are free of cholesterol. Animal-based proteins almost always have the opposite properties. Some great sources of plant-based proteins include beans, oatmeal, and barley.
Reduce Your Consumption of Refined Grains
Refined grains are very often part of the everyday meals we eat. They include white bread, white rice, and white pasta. Any foods made from these ingredients also need to be avoided. The reason here is that we usually replace whole grains with refined grains, and that means we miss out on the great properties of whole grains. When shopping for grains and foods made from them, always check the package and ingredient list to ensure that they are made of whole grains.
Avoid Drinking Excessively
If you drink alcohol regularly, you should try to limit your consumption to reduce your levels of bad cholesterol. Alcohol has been noted to improve the levels of cholesterol in the body, but only when taken in moderation. However, it is not advisable to start drinking in order to enjoy this benefit since alcohol has more negative effects than positive.
High levels of cholesterol will significantly risk your long-term health. But you can apply the tips above in order to lower your levels of bad cholesterol and raise your levels of healthy cholesterol. Since the advice may be overwhelming at first, you can apply one of them at a time till they become second nature.