4 Ways You Can Lower Your Cholesterol
You’ve probably heard that high levels of cholesterol are harmful to your health, but that’s only partially correct. Your body requires cholesterol to create hormones, produce bile in your liver, and protect your cells. There are two basic types of cholesterol: LDL (the bad stuff) and HDL (the good stuff). They both complete the jobs listed; however, the LDL cholesterol can be dangerous because the unused portion stores up in your arteries and can create blockages that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Learn about a few simple changes you can make in your lifestyle to build up your HDL levels and say goodbye to excess LDL.
1. Eat Up!
When picking out your meals, choose foods with healthier fats. Avoid foods with trans fat and saturated fat because these are sources of LDL cholesterol. Instead, opt for foods with unsaturated fat, which will boost your HDL levels. Try incorporating fish, nuts, seeds, beans, and avocados into your diet. Fried and processed foods tend to have a lot of unhealthy fat, so enjoy these in moderation. Additionally, whole grains (like oats and barley) and other sources of soluble fiber (like fruits and veggies) help prevent cholesterol from entering your bloodstream.
2. Get the Heart Pumping
Any type of exercise that gets the blood coursing through your veins is great for getting rid of some of that stored LDL, and regular activity can even increase levels of HDL! Try dancing, jogging, or biking as a fun way to improve your cardiovascular health.
3. Stay Smoke-Free
Smoking is detrimental to your health. It increases your risk of developing cancer, damages your lungs, and makes it far more difficult for HDL cholesterol to transport stored LDL to your liver for removal. Quitting smoking is in your best interest, and if you need help doing so, here are three helpful tips.
4. Stress Less
Higher stress levels correlate to higher cholesterol levels. This could be indirectly due to the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms when we’re stressed or directly related through the long-term effects that stress hormones have on our bodies. Learn about healthy ways to handle stress to prevent spikes in cholesterol and blood pressure.
With a few simple changes to your lifestyle, you can make strides in improving your HDL levels and decreasing the amount of LDL stored up in your arteries. Your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician can check your cholesterol levels and work with you to develop a healthy diet and fitness plan to get you on the right track. If you have high levels of cholesterol (over 200 mg/dL), schedule an appointment with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group cardiologist to talk about additional ways you can lower your cholesterol and move toward better health.
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Harvard Health Publishing | Elevating Your HDL Game
NCBI | Acute cholesterol responses to mental stress and change in posture.
Healthline | Does Stress Affect Your Cholesterol?
MedlinePlus | LDL: The "Bad" Cholesterol
American Heart Association | HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Healthline | Why Is Cholesterol Needed by the Body?
LiveStrong | What Is the Function of Cholesterol in the Body?