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5 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Cholesterol

Top 5 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Cholesterol

Lifestyle Changes Can Help To improve your cholesterol – and to improve the cholesterol-lowering power of the drug.

by Mayo Clinic staff

    High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Medicines can help improve your cholesterol. But if you want to make lifestyle changes first to improve your cholesterol, try these five healthy changes.

    If you are already taking medication, these changes can improve their cholesterol-lowering effect.

    1. Eat heart-healthy foods

    Some changes in your diet can lower cholesterol and improve heart health:

    • Reduce saturated fat. Saturated fats, found mostly in red meat and full-fat dairy, raise your total cholesterol. Reducing your intake of saturated fat can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol.

Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,” are commonly used in margarine and store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils until January 1, 2021.

  • eat Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids do not affect LDL cholesterol. But they also have other heart health benefits, including lowering blood pressure. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flax seeds.

    increases soluble fiber. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol absorption into the blood. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.

    Added whey protein. Whey protein, found in dairy products, may be responsible for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy products. Studies have shown that whey protein supplementation reduces LDL and total cholesterol, as well as blood pressure.

      2. Exercise and increase your physical activity most days of the week

      Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity helps raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. Get 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 times a week with your doctor’s approval.

      Increasing physical activity, even several times a day in short intervals, can help you start losing weight. Consider:

          Take a brisk walk at lunchtime every day

          Ride a bike to work

        • To stay motivated, consider finding a workout buddy or joining a workout group.

          3. Quit smoking

            Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol levels. The benefits come quickly:

              Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking , your blood pressure and heart rate recover from cigarette-induced spikes

            Within three months of quitting smoking, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve Within a year of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker

          4. Losing weight

          Even a few extra pounds can cause high cholesterol. Small changes add up. If you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, use tap water instead. Grab some air popcorn or pretzels — but watch the calories. If you have a sweet tooth, try sherbet or a low-fat or no-fat candy like jelly beans.

          Find ways to incorporate more activities into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from the office. Take a walk during breaks from work. Try increasing standing activities, such as cooking or doing yard work.

          5. Moderate alcohol consumption only

          Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with HDL levels

          cholesterol – but its benefits are not high enough to recommend drinking for those who are not already drinking.

          If you drink alcohol, be sure to do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink per day for women of all ages and men over 65, and up to two drinks per day for men 65 and younger.

          Excessive drinking can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

          If you don’t change your lifestyle…

          Sometimes healthy lifestyle changes are not enough to lower cholesterol levels. If your doctor recommends medication to help lower cholesterol, take it as prescribed while continuing to make lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help keep your medication doses low.

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              1. September 2, 2022

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