High cholesterol level can be very dangerous, leading to consequences such as various heart diseases and heart attacks. The most common way of dealing with consequences of high cholesterol is to take medications. This is, of course, effective and recommended. There are however habits and lifestyle choices that we can make to improve our situation before we decide to take medications, or while we are already taking them. So how to lower cholesterol levels and make our hearts healthy again? Here are a few steps to take.
First off, healthy eating. Diet has a huge influence on the state of every part of our body and it is one of the keys to lowering cholesterol. In order to achieve this, we should start from limiting saturated fats, found especially in red meat and full-fat dairy products. Another thing that we should avoid are the trans fats, otherwise known as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”. They can often be listed as the ingredients of margarines, store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. They have already been banned by The Food and Drug Administrations and they are known to increase cholesterol greatly.
Natural ways to lower cholesterol
Things we, on the contrary, should be eating a lot of, are for example products containing omega-3 fatty acids. They don’t affect the LDL cholesterol, but by reducing blood pressure they are helpful to keep our heart in good health. Foods that include it is many kinds of fish, for example salmon, mackerel and herring. Other products containing the omega-3 acids are walnuts and flaxseed. In order to decrease the absorption of cholesterol in our blood stream, we should consider eating more of the products that contain soluble fiber. These products are for example kidney beans, brussels, oatmeal, sprouts, apples and pears. Whey protein is another good thing to consume, lowering LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, as well as blood pressure. It is mostly found in dairy products. That is all to say about food.
Now, another important thing to keep in mind – physical activity. Sport and physical activity can rise the levels of HDL, known as the “good” cholesterol. A person should exercise for most of the days of the week, half an hour five times a week or, if we prefer more intense physical activity, 20 minutes three times a week. For people who haven’t been leading an active lifestyle before, it is recommended to start exercising step by step, by changing little things in their lives.
Good examples are taking long walks during free time, riding a bike to work or school and increasing the time spent on their favourite games and activities. Another thing which may help with properly caring for the health of a heart is to quit smoking, assuming we do. This quickly improves the level of HDL cholesterol. Though it might be very hard to defeat the addiction, health benefits occur very quickly. Twenty minutes after dropping the cigarette, blood pressure and heart rate are already improved. If we fully commit to quitting, more benefits will soon become apparent. Within three months of not smoking, our blood circulation greatly improves and after a year of not smoking, the risk of a heart disease is only half of that of a smoker.
Those are of course only the heart-focused benefits. For the lungs and other parts of one’s body, there are many more. Among other things, high cholesterol is partially caused by high weight. For those wishing to lower its levels, it is recommended to take the effort and return to more healthy weight. This is of course done thanks to healthy eating and a lot of physical activity. Though alcohol is beneficial in rising our HDL cholesterol level, it does not have a good influence on heart. Drinking is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure, heat strokes and heart failures. It is most recommended avoiding alcohol altogether. Those who still wish to drink should do so in moderation. The highest permitted amount is one drink per day for healthy women of all ages and up to two for healthy men below 65 years.