Have high cholesterol? You’re not alone. More than 100 million Americans have high cholesterol (above 200 mg/dL), which can clog arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes.
The good news is that there are a variety of time-tested strategies you can use to lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk for heart problems.
Some are better than others, some are easier. Here’s a rundown of some of the best approaches to lowering your cholesterol.
Dietary fiber—found in beans, fruits, and other foods—binds to cholesterol, lowering LDL levels by about 5%. It fills you up and often doesn’t have a lot of empty calories in it. It’s also cheap and easy, and available at the grocery store.
Exercise is a great way to raise HDL. People who have had a heart attack can reduce their death risk by 25% with exercise compared with usual care. Physical activity is an amazingly important behavior.
Low saturated fat diet
Choosing healthy food such as fish and veggies over red meat and french fries is relatively straightforward, and it’s estimated it could lower cholesterol by up to 20% in some people. Societies with low-saturated fat diets, such as Japan and parts of the Caribbean, have lower levels of heart attack and stroke. Proof is in the pudding people!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating fish is good for the heart. Omega-3 fatty acids—the healthy fats found in fish and fish oil—in a concentrated dose. It can help lower triglycerides in people with very high levels.
Whey protein is one of two proteins in dairy products — the other is casein. Whey protein may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL and total cholesterol.
You can find whey protein powders in health food stores and some grocery stores. Follow the package directions for how to use them.
If you smoke, stop. Quitting might improve your HDL cholesterol level. And the benefits don’t end there. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked.
Drink alcohol in moderation
Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.
Have you tried any of these suggestions? Whats worked for you. Leave a comment below and earn 10 points.
On the show, we discuss fitness, nutrition, and how to find a work life balance for the working professional. We interview other influencers and wellness pros that share powerful motivation and inspiration so you can hustle and achieve your goals! But most importantly we keep things real and we'll make you laugh so you can stay sane in the process.