When you’re diagnosed with high cholesterol, you have an excess of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in your blood. This is the cholesterol component that’s commonly described as “bad” cholesterol. If your high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are elevated, that’s good news, since HDL is “good” cholesterol.
The ratio between LDL and HDL results in a high cholesterol condition. Both elements are necessary. Controlling this balance may be influenced by your lifestyle and medications.
The team here at ARK Cardiovascular Center wants you to understand this cholesterol relationship and how you can influence it with lifestyle choices because high cholesterol is a risk factor for your heart health. We’ve compiled a list of 8 tips that, alone or with medication, can help restore the balance of LDL and HDL and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is a protein-building block for healthy cells. LDL carries these building blocks through the body in your bloodstream. HDL returns the excess to your liver for metabolization. While it’s essential for the growth of cells, its waxy nature makes too much LDL a problem and will build up in the bloodstream as fatty deposits called plaque.
High cholesterol is a condition that shows low levels of HDL, the component that removes excess cholesterol. Lifestyle changes focus on removing new sources of cholesterol while boosting the HDL levels already in your blood.
Each of these tips can help your overall cholesterol balance. When you combine more than one, you’ll multiply their cholesterol-reducing power.
There’s no faster way to influence your cholesterol levels than to beat the nicotine habit. Smoking suppresses your HDL levels and its other negative effects on your heart and bloodstream.
One or two drinks a day may benefit your HDL levels, but the effect isn’t large or significant enough to recommend alcohol to non-drinkers with high cholesterol. Drinking more than this regularly can negate any health benefits.
A stable weight near your ideal body mass index (BMI) is the place to be for balancing cholesterol levels. If you’re overweight, even modest weight loss can lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure.
Adding 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week also reinforces your HDL levels. There’s no need to join a gym. Half an hour of additional walking five times a week produces enormous health benefits. Low-impact exercises like swimming or bike riding are good choices too.
Any solid fat at room temperature is likely saturated fat, including animal fats, butter, and coconut oil. Reducing your saturated fat intake can help to drop LDL levels.
Fatty fish and other omega-3 proteins do not affect LDL, making them ideal substitutes for other animal products with saturated fats, like red meats.
Whole grains such as oats and legumes like beans are high in dietary fiber and can slow cholesterol absorption into your body.
Choosing fresh, unprocessed foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains is the ultimate heart-friendly diet. Adding healthy fats and reducing animal proteins maxes out the cholesterol-lowering properties.
Your heart health is key to your overall wellness. When you have any cardiac concerns, contact ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center. You can book a consultation by phone or online with any of our three locations. Your efforts to control cholesterol will also benefit your heart. Get started today.