High levels of cholesterol can congest your arteries and lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. When it comes to reducing your cholesterol, you may be surprised by how simple it can be to achieve better cardiovascular health through easy lifestyle changes. Here are five tips for lowering your cholesterol levels.
1. Cut Out Cholesterol-Heavy Foods
Foods containing high levels of saturated fat can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels. Avoiding foods like red meat, butter, lard, cream, hard cheeses and products containing coconut or palm oil can be a great way to start getting cholesterol levels under control. Replace these foods with fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids and nuts instead.
Regular physical activity can lower cholesterol levels while improving heart health. The National Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise each week, spread out over as many days as possible.
3. Eat More Fiber
Increase your intake of dietary fiber, which can be found in foods like whole grains, oats, fruit and vegetables. As a bonus, these foods are also great sources for heart-healthy antioxidants.
4. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is essential for a variety of health reasons. When it comes to cholesterol, dehydration caused by low water intake results in increased cholesterol production in order to keep cell membranes moist. Be sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water spread throughout the day to avoid higher than necessary cholesterol production.
5. Quit Smoking
In addition to increasing your risk of developing blood clots, raising your blood pressure, and exposing you to a number of other health hazards, smoking may lower levels of HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, often referred to as “good” cholesterol. HDL is important in protecting against heart disease, and quitting smoking is one of the simplest ways to help maintain healthy HDL levels.