You have the power to improve your numbers with these healthier habits.
Recently updated cholesterol guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association may result in millions more Americans being prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs than ever before.
But statins aren’t the only option when it comes to a healthier heart. Some people can manage high cholesterol with lifestyle changes alone. Others may still need medication to get their numbers where they need to be, but by adopting healthier habits, it may be possible to take a lower dosage.
You have the power to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL) with a few lifestyle changes. Why not give these a try?
- Get moving. Buy a fitness tracker or pedometer and aim to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. You don’t have to do all your daily activity in one spurt. Extra steps during the day add up, so take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther from your destination or walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email.
- Change what’s on your plate. Reduce saturated fat and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Avoid fried and processed foods and limit full-fat dairy and fatty cuts of meat. Reduce the amount of sugar you eat and instead choose foods high in fiber and full of antioxidants. Fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes and lean sources of protein.
- Lose weight. If you’re overweight, losing even a small amount of weight can lower your LDL numbers. Come up with a plan that allows you to not only drop a few pounds, but keep them off.
- Stop smoking. Here’s another good reason to quit. Smoking can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). Within a year of quitting, participants from one study saw HDL levels rise 5%.
- Relax. Downshifting is crucial to good health and can keep cholesterol levels in check. Take some time each day to slow down, chill out and have some fun. Unplug from mobile devices. Laugh. Stress hormones can increase cholesterol and pave the way for heart disease.
With all of these lifestyle adjustments, start slow and adapt your habits over time. In order to positively affect your heart health, you have to be able to live with the changes you make for the long term.
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Date Last Reviewed: January 3, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Elizabeth Kaback, MD