Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Cholesterol
Need another reason to lose weight? You may be able to prevent a heart attack.
One of the major risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks is high cholesterol. Medication exists that can reduce your cholesterol, but you can improve their effect (or avoid medication altogether) by changing your lifestyle instead. Try these 5 tips:
- Lose weight: By burning more calories than you consume, you will lose weight, and if you can lose even 5-10 pounds, you may be able to reduce your cholesterol level markedly.
- Drink less alcohol: If you already consume alcohol, limit your consumption to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Drinking alcohol to excess can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.
- Quit smoking: Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your blood pressure decreases. Within 24 hours, your risk of heart attack decreases. Your HDL (the good cholesterol) levels will improve, as well.
- Exercise: Moderate physical activity will increase your HDL cholesterol, but even simple activity like walking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can promote a healthier lifestyle.
- Change your diet: By focusing on heart-healthy foods, those with “good,” or monounsaturated fats, whole grains, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, and eliminating saturated and trans fats, you can make a significant difference in lowering your LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels. (It will also help you lose weight!)
Lifestyle changes are just one way to keep your cholesterol levels in the healthy range, and if your physician recommends medication in addition to recommending you lose weight, you should take it while maintaining the newer, healthier changes in your life.