Big numbers showing up in your lipid profile test results is a signal that you should begin lowering cholesterol level in your body. The rise of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the bad cholesterol is a threat you should recognize. Although cholesterol is an essential component in our cell membrane and in the production of hormone, its presence in excessive level is not to be taken lightly. The health consequences of high cholesterol level can be chronic and can endanger your cardiovascular health.
Rise of cholesterol level in our body can be largely attributed to the modern sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet. However, despite the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia, many people remain ignorant on how to lower cholesterol for health and better quality of life.
Why You Need to Learn How to Lower Cholesterol?
Imagine cholesterol – a waxy and fatty substance adhering to the walls of your arteries and forming plaques which harden your blood vessel and obstruct normal blood flow. When blood circulation to the heart, brain and the rest of the body is affected, fatal conditions like heart attack, heart failure and stroke will ensue. If you don’t learn how to lower cholesterol to normalize your numbers soon enough, elevation of LDL can trigger the first or recurrent occurrence of such cardiovascular-related problems.
If you are having other risk factors like family history of heart diseases, high blood pressure or smoking, lowering your cholesterol level becomes all the more important to keep your heart in pink. The lower your cholesterol is, the lower your risk of contracting coronary heart disease will be.
By learning how to lower cholesterol, you are also participating actively in your own health management rather than depending on your health care provider only. This gives you more control of your health and better outcome.
Tips on How to Lower Cholesterol
- Eat more fish
If you are wondering on how to lower cholesterol by eating fish, know that the key lies in the omega-3 fatty acid which can be found in fishes, especially deep sea fishes like salmon. Omega-3 is a great nutrient which helps to reduce triglyceride, increase the elasticity of your blood vessels, reduce blood clotting as well as to regulate heart rhythm and they are best found in fish. All these plus points contribute to the overall good health of your blood-pumping organ.It is recommended to take fish 2 to 3 times a week for adequate omega-3 from salmon, sardine, canned tuna, mackerel and etc. You may also opt for fish oil supplements for a more convenient source of omega-3 which confers the same beneficial effects to your heart.
- Take green tea
Studies have reported the benefits of green tea in helping to reduce LDL. The unfermented green tea leaves contain powerful antioxidants which can lower total cholesterol besides increasing level of HDL or the good cholesterol. Taking 2-3 glasses of green tea daily can produce the total cholesterol-lowering effect. Therefore, it is a good idea to substitute your Coke and sugary drinks with the aromatic green tea every day.
- Consume more fiber
Incorporating more fiber in your daily diet is a great way to practice when you are learning how to lower cholesterol. Fiber exists in various food sources like fruits, vegetables and whole grain. The soluble fiber acts in your digestive tract where it works like a sponge to attract cholesterol and prevent LDL from entering the bloodstream. The fatty substance will then be eliminated through your bowels. Scoop your fiber from oatmeal, beans, barley and psyllium to achieve a LDL cholesterol reduction of between 5% and 20%. It is suggested to take at least 5-10g of soluble fiber a day in combination with diet and exercise for adequate lipid-lowering effect.
- Stop smoking detrimental effects of nicotine do not only affect your lungs, but your blood vessels and heart as well. Smokers have more hardened arteries due to accumulation of cholesterol which impedes normal circulation and increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.Seek help from your doctor to participate in a quit smoking clinic. LDL level has been observed to drop as soon as smokers abandon their cigarettes. The production of the oxidized LDL which is a more harmful form can also be halted when you quit smoking. Kick off the butt if you are serious in practicing the ways on how to lower cholesterol. The
- Modify your cooking method
A healthy way of cooking can create more nutritious meals without the extra fat and cholesterol. You should seek better alternatives to frying your food like grilling, boiling and steaming. This allows you to use less oil besides preserving the taste and nutrition in your food. When you are preparing meat, make sure that you remove the skin and any visible fat layers.
- Adjust your food portion Your daily source of calories from fat should be between 20% and 30% of your total energy. You can practice this by limiting your portion of fatty meals and increase the portion of carbohydrates, fiber and vegetables. This allows you to taper down your fat intake as fat and oils are to be consumed the least among all food groups.
- Go nuts
Nuts are blessed with the hidden goodness of plant sterols which aids in reducing LDL level in your body. It is also reported that consumption of nuts can favorably reduce the ratio of LDL to HDL and risk of coronary heart disease. Add healthy serving of nuts into ice-cream or when baking your muffin and cake. You can snack on almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts for the lipid-lowering effect but take note to eat moderately at about less than 3 ounces a day as calories from nuts can be rather high if taken in large amount.
Read more: Eating Nuts: A Healthy Way to Lower Cholesterol
- Substitute saturated fat with unsaturated fat
If you are used to coating your food with lard and butter for cooking, it is best to turn to unsaturated fat for a healthier diet. Canola oil and olive oil are the preferred substitution as they have a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 giving you the anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective benefits. At the same time, cut back on red meat, butter and lard.
- Increase physical activities
Ditch your couch and TV. Instead, go for a walk in the park, get a refreshing dip in the pool, cycle or jog for 30 minutes at least 5 days of the week as this may help to reduce LDL cholesterol by about 5-10%. When you work out more regularly, your cardiovascular health improves as your good cholesterol level increases. You can also benefit from a weight reduction and be less susceptible to coronary heart disease. Experts have recommended at least a 10,000 steps a day for cardio benefits. Put in more effort to walk and monitor your steps with a pedometer. Even if you are working on the desk all day long, you can take the initiative to walk around for 5 minutes every hour.
- Practice healthy stress management
If you are always shackled by burden of work and family, try some stress relieving methods to release the tension. It has been reported that there is a link between stress exposure and higher cholesterol production. Therefore, you should reschedule your time and take time to relax, attend yoga classes, meditate and etc. These are the activities which allow you to slow your pace, relieve your mind and body to alleviate stress.
- Moderate drinking
If you are a fond lover of wine, you’ll be glad to know that moderate intake of alcohol does have benefits in increasing HDL and reducing LDL. Women may have 1 drink a day while men may enjoy 1-2 drinks a day for the cardio-protective effects. One drink is equal to about 5 ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer. Drinking more than this recommended serving is not advisable as this will reverse the benefits of alcohol and increase your risk for heart disease instead.
- Opt for healthier food when eating outside
When you are dining outside, patronize a restaurant which provides a wide variety of low fat and healthy meals. Place orders for meals which have a balanced serving of vegetables, fruit, protein, carbohydrate and minimal fat. You may also request for your food to be cooked with less oil and fat for a healthier diet.
How to lower cholesterol naturally
You may hesitate about starting medications to control your cholesterol level. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may want to learn how to lower cholesterol naturally to receive the health benefits without the side effects of drugs.
Know that regular exercises work perfectly with a low cholesterol diet to bring down your cholesterol the natural way. You should evaluate your current lifestyle and diet to make therapeutic changes.
If you haven’t been moving around and working out, put on your trainers and get a good sweat out of the running. Do any other forms of exercise you feel comfortable in and do it regularly every week for a more active lifestyle. Physical activities improve your overall health and help to reduce your risk factors for heart diseases.
If you find that fries, burger and steak have been your staple food, revamp your meal plans. Find out what to eat to lower cholesterol or the cholesterol lowering foods so that you can incorporate these healthier alternatives into your meals. Consume more vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish instead of red meat and sugary food.
Once you have initiated the changes, make sure that you adhere and commit to them as lowering cholesterol without medication is possible with these natural ways. Both lifestyle and dietary changes go a long way in controlling your cholesterol level.
How to lower cholesterol with medication
When non-drug therapy has failed and major risk factors for heart diseases are tagging along, you will require the intervention of medications. If you want to know how to lower cholesterol with medication, consult your health care provider for assessment and review. Your doctor will then be able to prescribe you with the appropriate drug therapy.
Statin is a great drug to lower LDL and it works relatively fast with good compliance and some of the examples of statin are lovastatin, simvastatin and atorvastatin. The super drug acts by blocking the enzyme involved in the production of the bad cholesterol. When statin is taken with a cholesterol-lowering diet, LDL is expected to be reduced to about 30%. This lipid-lowering effect is potent and well tolerated by most patients. The drug is usually taken in the evening for optimum effect as cholesterol in our body is mostly synthesized at night.
There are also the fibrate and niacin which lower cholesterol and triglyceride besides raising the level of good cholesterol in your body. Depending on your risk factors and cholesterol level, your doctor may put you on a single or combination drug therapy to arrest the rise of cholesterol.