The risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack is high if you have an elevated level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol and a low level of HDL or “good” cholesterol.
A healthy lifestyle can help you lower LDL and raise your HDL cholesterol. It can also go a long way to keep you off cholesterol-lowering medications or amplify the effect of your medications.
Given below are a few simple steps to achieve a healthy lifestyle:
Exercise can improve your cholesterol levels. Exercise can not only raise your HDL cholesterol levels, it can also reduce levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood). If you aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise ( at least five times a week, you can be rewarded with a healthier life. Include moderate activities such as walking, jogging or swimming in your daily routine.
2.Aim for a healthy weight
If you’re overweight and especially if you have excess fat around your waist, you’re at a higher risk for high blood cholesterol. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your weight can improve cholesterol levels. You can reduce lose the extra weight by reducing your calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
3. Follow a heart-healthy diet
The best way to lower your cholesterol is to reduce the intake of saturated fats and avoid trans fat. Saturated fats can raise your LDL levels. Saturated fats are found in red meat, poultry and dairy products made with whole milk. Trans fats not only increase LDL levels, but lower HDL levels as well. They occur naturally in lesser amounts in dairy products, beef, pork and mutton and in foods that use partially hydrogenated vegetable fats e.g. French fries, doughnuts, baked foods like biscuits, cakes, pastries etc. Choose skimmed milk, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, limit fried food and cook with healthy vegetable oils such as olive, canola, safflower etc.
Other factors of a healthy diet are including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts and limiting sugary foods and beverages. Eating this way may help increase fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
4. Break unhealthy habits
Unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking can affect your cholesterol levels adversely. In addition to the other dangers, smoking can cause a decrease in HDL or “good” cholesterol. If you smoke, give up at the earliest. Quitting might improve your HDL cholesterol level.
Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol. But research on the subject has been varied, and even the most conclusive findings doesn’t go as far as to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn't already drink. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Drinking more than what is considered moderate can raise both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If lifestyle changes aren't enough ...
If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to reach healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications in combination with lifestyle changes.