Having high cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease and heart attacks. Medications can help improve this, but if you would first rather make changes to your lifestyle in order to lower your cholesterol, we can help. Read on to find some useful tips on how to improve your cholesterol.

1.) Eat healthy foods for the heart

Small changes to your diet can help reduce your cholesterol and improve your health:

Reduce saturated fat.

Saturated fat is primarily found in red meat and full-fat dairy products such as milk or cheese. This raises your total cholesterol. By decreasing your consumption of saturated fat, you can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – the “bad” cholesterol.

Eliminate trans fats.

Trans fats, which are sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”, are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats can increase your overall cholesterol levels. In the US, The Food and Drug Administration has actually banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by 1st January 2021.

Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol, but they do have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing your blood pressure. Foodstuffs with omega-3 fatty acids include fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, as well as things like walnuts and flaxseeds.

Increase soluble fibre.

Soluble fibre can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. It is found in foods such as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.

Add whey protein.

Whey protein, which can be found in dairy products, might account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have previously shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, as well as blood pressure.

2.) Exercise often during the week and increase your physical activity

Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, essentially the “good” cholesterol. It is recommended to exercise 5 times a week or participate in vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes 3 times a week.

Even in short intervals, adding physical activity several times a day can attribute to weight loss. Here are some things to consider trying:

  •       Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
  •       Riding your bike to work
  •       Playing a favourite sport

In order to stay motivated, why not find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group?

3.) Quit smoking

Another way of improving your HDL cholesterol level is by quitting smoking. The benefits that occur quickly are:

  •       Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
  •       Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
  •       Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker

4.) Lose weight

One thing that affects your cholesterol level is, of course, weight. Instead of drinking drinks high in sugar, switch to tap water. Snack on popcorn or pretzels instead of foods high in sugar – essentially, keep track of your calorie intake.

Look for ways in which you can incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs as opposed to the lift, or parking further from your office to walk further. Take walks during your breaks at work or try to increase activities that involve standing.

5.) Drink alcohol in moderation

Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol – but the benefits are not strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink.

It is recommended to drink alcohol only in moderation if you already drink it – for healthy adults, this means 1 drink a day for women of all ages and men over the age of 65, and up to 2 drinks a day for men 65 or younger.

Too much alcohol can result in the development of serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.

However, sometimes making these lifestyle changes might not be enough. It is possible that medication is needed to help lower your cholesterol levels.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, Summerfield Healthcare can help. We carry out blood tests to check your cholesterol levels and give you peace of mind. These blood tests are affordable and typically you will get your results within 2 days.

If you are interested in this phlebotomy service, we offer both same-day private blood tests.

For more information on our services, contact us by calling 0333 9000010 or alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@summerfieldhealthcare.co.uk