Lowering LDL, also referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is key to lowering your risk of a heart attack. It’s recommended that you aim to get your LDL levels below 100. Dropping your LDL below 80 provides even more protection. Taking charge of your heart health by making changes that lower your cholesterol is one of the key steps you can take to avoid dying of heart disease. Read on to learn five practical ways you can manage your cholesterol without medication.
1. Increase soluble fiber intake
Dietary fiber is essential for a healthy diet, and if you’re like most Americans, you aren’t getting enough of it. Foods in your diet may contain a mixture of two kinds of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Your body needs both types of fiber, with the soluble variety playing a role in lowering cholesterol.
Unlike insoluble fiber, the soluble kind dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Beans and legumes are some of the richest sources of soluble dietary fiber. Other sources include oat bran, nuts, seeds, and some fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, carrots, and broccoli. Increasing your intake of soluble fiber is a natural way to improve your cholesterol levels.
2. Get moving
You may have heard that getting plenty of exercise is good for your health, but did you know that engaging in physical activity is a powerful way to lower your cholesterol levels? Recent studies show that exercise alone is enough to significantly improve cholesterol levels.
Striving for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week is a good starting point. If you are used to a sedentary lifestyle, you may find that it helps to start with a low-impact activity such as walking. Aerobic exercise — even 30 minutes of brisk walking — can make a major difference in your cholesterol levels.
3. Adopt a heart-healthy diet
Making healthy food choices is a cornerstone of keeping your cholesterol levels within a healthy range. A nutritious meal plan doesn’t have to mean dieting or giving up the foods you love. Healthy eating is about adopting a balanced diet that provides your body with the nutrient-dense fuel it needs to function properly.
It’s your overall food patterns that count. Instead of trying to radically change your diet, talk to your provider about practical choices you can make in your food choices that promote long-term heart health. Eating enough fruits and vegetables, replacing saturated fat with heart-healthy fats, and cutting back on processed foods are good places to start.
4. Slim down
If you have extra body fat, trimming down improves cholesterol levels and lowers risks that come with having high cholesterol. People who are overweight or obese are significantly more likely to have elevated cholesterol in their blood.
Permanent weight loss involves adopting healthy behaviors that promote weight management, including making healthy food choices, getting sufficient exercise and avoiding excess alcohol. If you’re overweight and have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about a plan to bring your weight within a healthy range.
5. Cut out sugar-sweetened beverages
When it comes to lowering cholesterol through diet, cutting back on saturated fat receives a lot of attention. You may be unaware, however, that added sugar, especially sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, contribute to high cholesterol. Regularly drinking sweet beverages can drive up bad cholesterol and drive down HDL, a good form of cholesterol. Swapping out soda and other sugary drinks with healthier beverages like herbal tea can help manage cholesterol levels.
To learn more about how the professionals at Westmed Family Healthcare can help you manage your cholesterol and improve your health, call our Westminster, Colorado, office to schedule an appointment or send your request online.