Is it possible to make daily lifestyle changes to lower high cholesterol in a healthy, speedy way? You bet. Has your doctor notified you of a climbing cholesterol level? Even if your test results are currently normal, making proactive changes to your diet and daily routine can help keep bad cholesterol in check, promoting heart health.
What’s So Dangerous About Cholesterol?
As you may know, cholesterol is found in the blood and is naturally produced by your body. The fat-like substance helps you digest food and produce hormones. In short, your body needs a certain amount of it to function, but too much “bad” cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol, can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries.
Eventually, your arteries harden and become narrow, slowing or blocking blood flow to the heart. Once this occurs, your risk of heart attack increases as well as your risk of developing heart disease.
Unlike some medical conditions, you have a significant amount of control over your cholesterol, especially if you are otherwise healthy and have no history of cholesterol problems in your family tree. Just a 10 percent decrease in your cholesterol levels results in a 20 to 30 percent reduction in your heart attack risk. You can make small change today that add up over time and preserve your long-term health.
1. It’s Time to Change Your Diet
Start lowering your cholesterol by watching what you eat. Consuming saturated and trans fats are directly linked to higher blood cholesterol. Replacing these types of fat with omega-3 fatty acids will instead help raise your “good” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, which in turn eliminates LDL cholesterol.
Eat fish at least once per week. Snack on nuts and beans. Drink tea. Replace butter with margarine. Cook with garlic and olive oil. Make oatmeal for breakfast. These dietary changes will immediately begin making a difference within six weeks.
2. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Set small, incremental weight loss goals. Shedding excess pounds can help you keep LDL cholesterol at bay. Talk to your doctor about your current body mass index and find a target weight to work towards. Begin by shaving off 5 percent, then 10 percent of your total weight.
3. Get Outside and Get Some Sunshine
First of all, exercise should be a priority. Raise your heart rate for 30 minutes a day. You don’t need a gym membership to make this happen. Simply taking a stroll through your neighborhood or climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator are two smart choices.
Also, try to make sure some of your physical activity takes place outside in the sunshine. Adults deficient in Vitamin D often also have high cholesterol, so bask in the sun’s rays or take a supplement.
4. Go to Bed On Time
When you’re sleepy, you’re more apt to overeat, and chances are you won’t be overeating healthy food. If you aren’t getting at least 8 hours of high-quality sleep every night, your LDL levels will rise and you’ll also have high blood pressure. Try to rearrange your schedule and eliminate late evening activities to make sure your body gets the rest it needs.
It’s wise to form a healthy plan to approach your high cholesterol under the supervision of your doctor. Your physician may prescribe a medication that could help. After age 20, all adults should have their blood cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years, but more often if there is a history of cholesterol issues in their family medical history.
If you’re concerned about how your current insurance coverage will affect your ability to receive quality treatment for your high cholesterol, it’s time to call My Senior Health Plan. Talk to our team about the additional coverage options that can help you pay for all your medical needs, from regular appointments to specialized prescriptions.