First of all…what does high cholesterol even mean? Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the blood that can clog the walls of your arteries. The more cholesterol present in the blood stream, the easier it is for build up to accumulate, hardening the arteries. This makes it more difficult for blood and therefore oxygen to reach the heart. This creates an environment that puts those with high cholesterol at risk for heart attack and heart disease. High blood cholesterol has no obvious symptoms. This is why it is especially important to get your cholesterol tested regularly.
If you already do have high cholesterol, doctors may have already prescribed you medication that you are taking regularly to lower high cholesterol. There are still some lifestyle changes you can consider making to compliment your prescription. If you are aware of your high cholesterol, but don’t need medication yet, or would just like to prevent being at risk for heart problems all together, here are some simple lifestyle changes to make to keep your lipid profile healthy and your heart pumping strong.
Exercise can directly lower cholesterol by raising the “good” kind (HDL). Physical activity such as walking, biking, running or swimming can raise high-density lipoproteins. Regular exercise can improve your overall heart health. Try to find something that you enjoy like hiking or playing sports to keep workouts fun.
Quitting smoking will improve your heart health within the first twenty minutes of stopping. Blood pressure and heart rate instantly decrease immediately after quitting. Everyone knows that cigarettes can cause heart disease and cancer, put that knowledge into action and it can help to lower your cholesterol too.
Cut the Fat
Stop ingesting bad cholesterols found in fried and processed foods. Hydrogenated oils are a main culprit and can combine to create trans fats. Cholesterol in diets comes in the form of animal products, cut the red meat and the dairy. Not all fat is created equal though, swap out the cheeseburger for some salmon to get your omga-3 fatty acids. A whole-foods plant based diet is always best when trying to achieve optimal heart health.
Up the Soluble Fiber
If you aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables, consider taking a psyllium supplement. Fiber is proven to reduce LDL levels when taken no more than 30 minutes before a meal. Some food-based sources of soluble fiber are oats, brussels sprouts, carrots, oranges, pears, and beans.