Your body needs cholesterol for many day-to-day functions. A certain amount of cholesterol is necessary because it forms part of the cell walls and is also essential to produce hormones. There are two main forms of cholesterol – LDL (also called bad cholesterol) and HDL (also called good cholesterol). While HDL cholesterol is beneficial for the body, too much LDL cholesterol can accumulate and deposit along the walls of arteries. This causes your blood vessels to narrow and become blocked. Over time, a gradual build-up of these deposits will narrow the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This can eventually lead to angina, a heart attack, or a stroke.
Medications can help reduce cholesterol. But a good doctor will instead first recommend lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. Try the following five healthy changes to lower your LDL (bad cholesterol). If you already take medications, these changes can improve their cholesterol-lowering effect.
5 Ways To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly Naturally
Eat heart-healthy foods
Your cholesterol can increase for many reasons. High cholesterol can be genetic or because of an under-active thyroid, but in most cases, it increases due to eating too much-saturated fat. A few diet modifications can reduce your cholesterol as well as improve your heart health:
(i) Reduce saturated fats. Reducing saturated fat is one of the best ways to lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the bad cholesterol. Saturated fat increases total cholesterol. It is primarily contained in red meat and full-fat dairy products. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce.
(ii) Cut out trans fats. Trans fats are sometimes listed on food labels in the disguise of such names as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” They are generally used in margarine and store-bought bakery products like cookies, pastries, crackers, and cakes. Trans fats increase overall cholesterol levels.
(iii) Eat foods high in omega-3. Although omega-3 fatty acids don’t impact LDL cholesterol, they improve your heart health, such as lowering blood pressure. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
(iv) Increase soluble fiber intake. Soluble fiber can decrease the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is contained in foods like oats, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, pears, and apples.
Increase your physical activity and exercise on most days of the week
Exercise can lower LDL and increase HDL cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week is enough to reduce bad cholesterol & blood pressure and raise good cholesterol. (Source)
Another health organization recommends at least thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times per week or vigorous aerobic activity of twenty minutes three times weekly. The latest trend is performing physical activity in short intervals several times daily. Some examples are:
- A brisk walk during lunch hour
- Riding a bike to work
- Playing your favorite sport
A 2013 research found that walking one hour per day, five days a week for 24 weeks, raised the levels of HDL cholesterol in the body. (Source)
Another research reiterated this finding, indicating that after regular high-intensity strength training three times a week for ten weeks increased the HDL cholesterol levels in the body. (Source)
The other health benefits of regular exercise include:
- Helps maintain a moderate body weight
- Improves brain health
- Builds muscle/bone mass and strength
- Boosts energy levels.
Stop smoking to reduce LDL cholesterol
You will be shocked to know how bad smoking is for cholesterol.
(i) Makes LDL (bad cholesterol) stickier – therefore, it sticks to artery walls and clogs them.
(ii) Reduces levels of HDL (good cholesterol).
(iii) Damages artery walls and cholesterol accumulates in the damaged areas.
The above changes increase the risk of arteries getting clogged faster. It also increases heart rate, contracts blood vassals, and thickens blood. The oxygen and blood can’t circulate efficiently, requiring the heart to work harder, increasing the risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things we can do for your cholesterol, heart, and overall health. Within days, your health will start to improve, and within a year, your risk of heart disease will be halved.
Lose weight to Lower Your Cholesterol
Losing weight, as little as ten pounds, can be enough to improve your cholesterol levels.
In one study, participants who lost at least 5% of their weight remarkably lowered their LDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. But people who lost less than 5% of their weight only had reduced levels of triglycerides.
When we drink alcohol, it’s broken down and converted into triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver. Therefore, drinking alcohol increases the triglycerides and cholesterol levels in your blood.
(i) If triglyceride levels become too high, it can build up in the liver, leading to fatty liver disease. The liver can’t work as effectively as it should and can’t eliminate cholesterol from the blood. Therefore, cholesterol levels increase.
(ii) Alcohol can cause a combination of high triglyceride levels along with low HDL cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease.
Cutting back on alcohol can help you to reduce your cholesterol levels. In addition, avoiding alcohol can also lower blood pressure, control weight and waistline, and look after your liver, which all help improve your heart health and prevent heart disease.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough …
Sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to reduce cholesterol levels. If your doctor suggests medicine to help reduce cholesterol, take it as prescribed while continuing your lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help you keep your medicine dose low.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says,” Age is just a number!”