How to Lower Your Cholesterol & Save Your Heart

When you have high cholesterol level, it can help to change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your cholesterol range.

Simple Ways to Lower Cholesterol

When you have high cholesterol level, it can help to change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your cholesterol range. Lowering cholesterol has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. Even if you are taking a medication to lower your cholesterol levels, diet and exercise in addition can lead to optimal heart and blood vessel health. The following tips include simple ways to be healthy.

Some cholesterol is necessary for proper body function.

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Some cholesterol is necessary for proper body function. But dietary saturated fat and cholesterol both raise levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in arteries, leading to heart disease and stroke. HDL is a "good" cholesterol in that it helps eliminate bad cholesterol from your blood. It is possible to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol with your diet.

An easy way to practice portion control for a meal is to use your hand as a measuring instrument for portions.

Portion Control: Use Your Hand

Eating super-sized meals contributes to weight gain and high cholesterol. An easy way to practice portion control for a meal is to use your hand as a measuring instrument for portions. One handful is about the size of one portion of food.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, pick up the pace!

Serve Up Heart-Healthy Food

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, pick up the pace! Multiple servings throughout the day can help lower LDL "bad" cholesterol. Moreover, these foods have antioxidants that can be beneficial. Also, eating more vegetables and fruits often results in eating fewer high-fat foods. This can also lower your blood pressure and promote weight loss.

Eating fish is especially heart healthy because many fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat.

Think Fish For Heart Health

Eating fish is especially heart healthy because many fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat. It is the omega-3 fatty acids that help lower blood levels of triglycerides. Stick to fatty fish, which has more omega-3. Keep in mind that deep oil frying of any food diminishes its health benefits.

Oatmeal and whole-grain cereal have fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Start the Day With Whole Grains

Oatmeal and whole-grain cereal have fiber and complex carbohydrates that help you to feel fuller for longer, so you'll be less inclined to overeat later in the day. These breakfasts help reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol and can help with your weight control.

Nuts help to lower cholesterol because they are high in monounsaturated fat.

Go Nuts for Cardiovascular Health

Nuts help to lower cholesterol because they are high in monounsaturated fat. This form of fat lowers LDL "bad" cholesterol while maintaining HDL "good" cholesterol levels. This can lower the risk of heart disease. Only eat a handful, though, because nuts are high in calories, especially if they are coated in sugar or chocolate.

Our daily fat needs are only about a third of our daily calories.

Unsaturated Fats Protect the Heart

Our daily fat needs are only about a third of our daily calories. However, the form of fat makes a difference. Unsaturated fats (in canola, olive, and safflower oils) lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels. Saturated fats (in butter and palm oil) and trans fats increase LDL cholesterol. All fats have calories. Moderation is the key.

Carbohydrates are important for energy production.

Eat More Beans, Fewer Potatoes

Carbohydrates are important for energy production. However, there are differences in the quality of carbohydrates, too. Whole grains like beans, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice are high in fiber that can help lower cholesterol. Whole grains also keep you feeling full longer. The carbohydrates in pastries, white rice, white bread, and potatoes boost blood sugar levels rapidly. This can lead you to feel hungry sooner, potentially leading to overeating.

Short intervals of regular exercise can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol.

Get Moving with Exercise!

Short intervals of regular exercise can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol. Exercise also improves cardiovascular health by helping you maintain an optimal body weight. It can help you stick to a healthy weight, which can lower your blood pressure and heart disease risk too. This is one non-medication option to lower cholesterol through diet.

Short walks are much better than no walks, so don't be afraid to start there.

Just Go for a Walk

Walking is easy, healthy, and a good pair of shoes is your only requirement. This too Walking can lower your risk of stroke and heart disease, help you lose weight, maintain balance, and keep bones strong. Short walks are much better than no walks, so don't be afraid to start there. You can gradually work your way up to longer walks as your body builds strength.

Any kind of cardiovascular activity can benefit your heart.

Work Out Without Going to the Gym

Any kind of cardiovascular activity can benefit your heart. But check with your doctor for guidelines. Simple activities that can be of benefit include gardening, dancing, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Even housework can qualify as exercise.

Stay on track with a consistent program of cholesterol management and learn the tricks that maintain your health.

Take Control of Your Health

Stay on track with a consistent program of cholesterol management and learn the tricks that maintain your health. Checking food labels for nutrition facts can be very helpful. It can also help to vary your exercise routine to keep you challenged and motivated.

When you eat out, be careful about the quality and quantity of your meal.

What to Do When Eating Out

When you eat out, be careful about the quality and quantity of your meal. Watch out for hidden salt, calories, and saturated fats. Don't super-size your order. Choose broiled, baked, steamed, and grilled foods instead of fried. Ask for sauces on the side, so you can choose how much you want.

Managing cholesterol with your diet begins at the grocery store.

Watch for Hidden Traps

Managing cholesterol with your diet begins at the grocery store. Look at nutrition labels. Check serving sizes. Does a single-serve package contain two servings instead of one? Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and have very little or no trans-fat.

Stress can raise your cholesterol level rapidly.

Don't Stress

Stress can raise your cholesterol level rapidly. It can also raise blood pressure, which may lead to heart and blood vessel disease. Stress reduction can be fun. Take a break from your usual routines of daily living. Simple and effective methods to reduce stress include meditation, biofeedback, and relaxation exercises.

Losing weight when you are overweight or obese lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides and decreases your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Losing Means Winning

Losing weight when you are overweight or obese lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides and decreases your risk of stroke and heart disease. An optimal body weight puts less stress on the heart. It also reduces the strain on joints and ligaments.

Continue managing a normal cholesterol range for life with regular doctor checkups, exercise, and healthy food choices.

Follow Your Doctor's Advice

Continue managing a normal cholesterol range for life with regular doctor checkups, exercise, and healthy food choices. These lifestyle changes can help you to reduce the risk of disease and promote longevity. Work with your health care professionals to get tips to improve your cholesterol by changing your routine.

Sources:

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. Rosemary Calvert / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
  2. Hemera
  3. iStockphoto
  4. Linda Steward / iStockphoto
  5. Ivan Mateev / iStockphoto
  6. Carl Durocher / iStockphoto
  7. Rita Maas / The Image Bank / Getty Images
  8. Tetra Images / Getty Images
  9. iStockphoto
  10. Stockbyte / Getty Images
  11. ICHIRO / Taxi Japan / Getty Images
  12. Peter Teller / Digital Vision / Getty Images
  13. DMH Images / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
  14. Lucas Cornwell / iStockphoto
  15. Noel Hendrickson / Blend Images / Getty Images
  16. PhotoAlto/Sandro Di Carlo Darsa / Getty Images
  17. Blue Line Pictures / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
  18. Jose Luis Pelaez / Iconica / Getty Images

REFERENCES:

  • American Heart Association: "Cooking to Lower Cholesterol," "Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Picking Healthy Proteins," "Stress and Heart Health."
  • Anthony S. Fauci: "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine"
  • NIH: "Cholesterol Management at a Glance."
  • Cleveland Clinic: "Cholesterol Guide: Exercise Tips."
  • USDHHS: "Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC."
  • CDC: "Cholesterol: About Cholesterol," ""Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity: Portion Pitfalls."
WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information