High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Making lifestyle changes can help lower your cholesterol and may even reduce the need to take cholesterol-lowering medications in the future. If you already take medications, healthy lifestyle changes can improve your medication’s cholesterol-lowering effect.
- Heart-healthy foods
Changes in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce cholesterol
Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats, found mainly in red meat and full-fat dairy foods, raise your total cholesterol. Reducing the amount of saturated fats in your diet can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – also known as the “bad” cholesterol.
Avoid trans fats. Trans fats are often used in commercial baked goods, processed foods, and margarine. Trans fats raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your high-density lipoprotein (HDL, also known as “good”) cholesterol levels. Instead of trans fat, you should eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that don’t affect LDL cholesterol and they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds.Eat soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps reduce how much cholesterol is absorbed into your bloodstream. It is found in foods like oatmeal, kidney beans, peas, and fruits.
- Get more exercise
Physical activity is a win-win for heart-health. It can help raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, reduce the bad LDL cholesterol, and help you keep a healthy weight! Try and get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three times a week. Check with you doctor what and how much exercise is good for you.
- Quit smoking
Smoking can raise LDL and lower HDL cholesterol, and quitting can help improve those numbers. The benefits of quitting smoking occur quickly:
- Within 20 minutes of quitting, blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
- Within three months of quitting, blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
- Within a year of quitting, the risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker
- Loose the bulge
Carrying just a few extra pounds can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol levels. The good news is that dropping as little as 10 pounds can cut your LDL by up to 8%!1 Take your weight loss steady and safe with a goal of 1 to 2 pounds a week. That way you’re more likely to stick to your plan, and keep the weight off in the long-term.
- Drink alcohol in moderation
If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to two drinks a day for men aged 65 and younger, and up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65.
If healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough …
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels and your doctor may recommend medication to help lower your cholesterol. Take the medication as prescribed while continuing your lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help you keep your medication dose low.
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.