If your doctor is telling you that your cholesterol is too high, you’re probably
wondering about your options. Drugs like statins can lower your cholesterol, but
many patients worry about the side effects. You may want to explore lifestyle
changes that can provide natural relief.
High cholesterol is a serious matter that increases your risk for a heart attack, stroke,
and kidney failure. However, your body needs some cholesterol to make cell
membranes, vitamin D, and a wide variety of hormones.
For optimal health, you want to limit how much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) your
liver makes, because that’s the cholesterol that causes clogged arteries.
At the same time, you want to maintain adequate amounts of high-density
lipoprotein (HDL) that transports cholesterol back to your liver.
Simple changes can make a big difference in helping you to balance your cholesterol.
Try making these ideas part of your daily routine.
Adjusting Your Diet
Your liver adjusts how much cholesterol it makes in response to how much you get
from food sources.
You can help the process along with these strategies:
1.Increase your fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the amount of cholesterol in
your bloodstream and help you live longer. Smart choices include beans,
vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
2. Choose healthy fats. Replace solid fats like butter with liquids as much as
possible. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds,
and fatty fish are especially helpful.
- Avoid trans fats. These hydrogenated fats increase total cholesterol and LDL
while decreasing HDL. Manufacturer’s use them to increase shelf life, so check
the labels on cookies, margarine, and other products.
- Lose weight. Slimming down can lower your cholesterol too. Find a diet you can
stick with for the long run. Let your family and friends know about your goals
and how they can support you.
- Drink in moderation. At least one study suggests that having one or two drinks
can lower cholesterol for some adults. Keep in mind that heavy drinking has the
opposite effect, potentially harming your liver and other organs.
- Limit red meat. Beef is the top source of saturated fat for many Americans.
Consider a plant-based diet or meat-free days with vegetarian or fish dishes.
Using low or no fat dairy products helps too.
- Switch your snacks. A healthy diet can include some treats. Munch on fruit,
nuts, and air popped popcorn.
8. Cook light. The way you prepare your food matters too. Cut back on cooking
oil. Bake and boil instead of frying.
Other Lifestyle Choices
Studies have shown that aerobic exercise and other smart choices can enhance the lipid-lowering effects of a heart-friendly diet. As a bonus, many of these habits will enhance your overall wellbeing, as well as lower your cholesterol.
Try these lifestyle enhancements:
- Exercise regularly. There are several theories about why exercise lowers
cholesterol, including promoting weight loss and stimulating enzymes that
remove cholesterol from your bloodstream. Aerobic activities and resistance
training are both beneficial.
2. Move. You’ll see more results if you stay active in between workouts. Do
manual chores like vacuuming and raking leaves. Take the stairs instead of
riding the elevator.
- Quit smoking. The tar in tobacco damages blood vessels and increases your risk
for high cholesterol. Combining nicotine replacement devices and social
support may help you to quit. Keep in mind that many adults make multiple
attempts before they succeed.
4. Consider supplements. There’s a big market for cholesterol-reducing
supplements like fish oil and niacin. Your doctor can advise you about possible
drug interactions and other safety concerns.
Talk with your doctor about developing an action plan based on your individual
needs. Natural methods may help you to manage your cholesterol without taking
drugs or may enable you to reduce your dosage.