Understanding Cholesterol And Health

When most people hear the word cholesterol, thoughts of clogged arteries and poor health come to mind. While true, the association only focuses on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. Meanwhile, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good kind of cholesterol essential for protecting people against the risk of stroke or heart attack. Although medications known as statins can be prescribed to reduce cholesterol, people can also engage in the following healthy habits to naturally reduce LDL levels.

center for family medicine Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Without Statins 3 Ways To Improve Your Lipids.jpg

1. Mind the fat

Similar to how not all cholesterol is bad, not all fat is bad for the body either. While a certain amount is good for the body, other types fall into categories that can increase not just the risk of developing high cholesterol but also poor health outcomes. Saturated fats are often found in full-fat dairy foods and red meats. When eaten in excess, this type of fat can increase LDL levels. Likewise, trans fats found in many prepackaged foods can also be risky and should be avoided.

2. Get moving

A sedentary lifestyle is dangerous for any person at risk for cardiac conditions such as hypertension or high cholesterol. Being overweight, along with a poor diet rich in cholesterol-inducing foods, is not a winning combination. Aim to achieve roughly 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least 5 times a week for a total of 150 minutes. Doing so can raise a person’s HDL cholesterol which helps to keep the blood vessels functioning properly.

3. Be smart about vices

Smoking is bad even for people that would technically qualify as generally healthy. For people with high cholesterol, reaching for that pack of cigarettes can make a bad situation worse. In particular, smoking raises LDL while simultaneously lowering the critical HDL the body needs. Similarly, overindulging with alcohol can also increase a person’s risk of developing other chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, and stroke.

A holistic approach

Reducing LDL cholesterol takes time and a commitment to improve lifestyle choices. Along with avoiding bad foods, focus on redefining a daily diet so that the go-to options are heart-healthy. Consider incorporating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring. All 3 options have been known to reduce blood pressure, which is a condition that often presents with high cholesterol.

Embrace a healthier lifestyle

Understandably, many people don’t want to start a prescription regimen. Along with the general nuisance of taking medications is the concern that further problems could develop with time. However, just because a person receives a high cholesterol diagnosis doesn’t mean pharmaceutical treatment is required. Instead, take a proactive approach that includes watching food consumption, getting active, and being mindful of other behaviors like smoking or drinking.