Before you get started on knowing how you can lower your cholesterol levels, you should know first WHY you should be doing it. For starters, cholesterol is a waxy substance that makes cell tissues, protect nerves, and develop certain hormones. In fact, your liver has the most cholesterol in your body. You can also get cholesterol from the food that you eat.
However, too much cholesterol in your body can give you health complications including heart attack and heart disease. Learn everything you need to know about cholesterol and how to lower its levels below.
Good and Bad Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol: the good and the bad. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered as bad cholesterol. Why? This is because too much LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke or heart disease. Meanwhile, High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol. This is because it does not put you at risk of getting complications.
Considering these, you need to be aware of the right amount of cholesterol in your body. You can use the suggested cholesterol levels below for reference.
- Total cholesterol level – You need to have at least less than 200. But this might change depending on your LDL and HDL levels.
- LDL cholesterol level – You need to have less than 130. But it will still depend on your risk of getting a heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol level – You need to have less than 60 otherwise you will be at risk of getting a heart disease.
- Triglycerides – You need to have less than 150 mg/dl.
What Should You Do?
Of course, just like any other condition, there are different ways you can prevent getting a high cholesterol. You can go to your doctor to ask for medicine if you want to. Or you can try changing your lifestyle using these:
Eat healthy food
Not just any healthy food but those that are heart-friendly. Take note of the following:
- Whey protein. Some recommend that you add whey protein to your meals. It comes from dairy products and can be used as a supplement to lower your total cholesterol level, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Soluble fiber. Just like whey protein, you can increase your soluble fiber intake in order to lessen your absorption of cholesterol. You can find this type of fiber in pears, apples, kidney beans, and oatmeal.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. You can also increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids as these do not affect your LDL cholesterol levels. These fatty acids can also lower your blood pressure. Some foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are herring, salmon, and mackerel.
- Trans fats. If you are required to eat whey protein, soluble fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, you need to eliminate trans fats. Trans fats are hydrogenated vegetable oil that you can find in cakes, crackers, and cookies. It can be used in margarine as well. Although you can easily find this type of fat, it is not advisable to eat as these can increase your cholesterol levels.
- Saturated fats. Just like trans fats, you need to avoid saturated fats too. This fat, which is available on full-fat dairy products and red meat, can increase your cholesterol levels.
Smoking is never good for your health. Apart from giving yourself a healthy liver, stopping smoking can boost your HDL cholesterol level. What is good about quitting smoking is that you can get the benefits immediately. Some of these are:
- If you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure will immediately recover after 20 minutes from cigarette-induced spike.
- After 3 months, you can expect your lung function and blood circulation to improve.
- After one year, your heart disease risk will be half of those who are still smoking.
You might probably hear this from someone before but exercise will really make you healthy. One of the many benefits of exercise is improving your cholesterol. What you can do is to keep a moderate physical activity to increase your HDL cholesterol levels. You can make sure that you exercise at least five times a week within 30 minutes. Or if you like, you can do a vigorous aerobic activity that can last for 20 minutes.
If you are looking for other exercises, you can do the following:
- Playing your favorite sport
- Brisk walking every morning or during lunch
- Ride your bike to school or work
Drink alcohol in moderation
Just like smoking, alcohol can increase your HDL cholesterol levels. But this does not mean that you can avoid it entirely. You can still drink alcohol if you want to of course just be sure that it will be in moderation.
It is recommended for adults that they can only drink one cup a day. Men who are 65 years old and younger can drink 2 cups a day.
Being overweight can give you a lot of health complications and one of these is getting high cholesterol levels. If you like air-popped snacks, sugary beverages, and sweets, well you should expect to have high cholesterol. This is why it is recommended that you try losing weight. You can lessen your food intake or do exercises.
Even simple physical activities can help you. Some of these are taking the stairs, walking, cooking, or even doing yard work. You should not force yourself to just lose weight immediately. You can do it one step at a time, based on what your body can handle. Do not overwork yourself, or you can get other complications instead.
Overall, having high amounts of cholesterol is not good for your body. It can give you illnesses that can risk your life. So what you can do to have a healthy body is by losing weight, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercise, stop smoking, and focusing on heart-friendly food.
Although changing your lifestyle can be a big step for you to make, always remember that you are doing this for you and your health.