Everyone over the age of 20 ought to have their cholesterol checked once every five years… we all know that. But what to do if your cholesterol is too high (over 200 total, or over 100 of LDL)? It can be confusing, and scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 8 relatively easy ways to lower your cholesterol, protect your heart, and be healthier overall.
1. Have a Goal in Mind
In order to reach a low cholesterol goal, you have to have one first! Talk to your doctor about what a reasonable goal might be, and ask for specifics — does she want you to lower your overall cholesterol count, or just one part? What is the exact number she wants you to reach, and in how much time? Once you have a specific goal in mind, it’s time to get going on achieving it!
2. Get Physical!
Exercise can not only lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, it can even increase your HDL (“good”) cholesterol, so get up, and get moving! Even a brisk walk counts as exercise… don’t overdo it, but if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, exercise is an important part of the plan.
3. Avoid Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are loaded with cholesterol, so avoid them, and instead eat a diet that focuses more on leaner choices. For instance, rather than slathering your morning muffin with butter, eat whole wheat toast with margarine.
4. Favor Fiber
Remember a minute ago I mentioned whole wheat toast? Increasing your fiber intake, like the fiber found in whole grains, fruits, and veggies, can also help lower your cholesterol. That’s why Cheerios boasts, right on the box, that it can help lower your cholesterol. And they’re right!
5. Go Green!
Studies have shown that drinking green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, helps lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Be wary, though: make sure you’re not opting for green tea “juice blends” which can be loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and only contain a little green tea.
6. Drink… a Little…
If you already drink in moderation, don’t feel you have to quit to lower your cholesterol. In fact, studies have shown that women who drink one alcoholic beverage a day can actually increase their “good” cholesterol by as much as 10%. Don’t drink more than that, though, or you lose the benefits of one glass of wine for all of the problems abuse can cause.
7. Quit Smoking
As if you needed another reason to quit smoking! It’s been shown that smoking can lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol, as well as all of the other horrible things it can do to your body, inside and out. If you smoke, quit!
8. Pharmaceutical Therapy
In addition to all of these lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend a prescription medication, like Crestor or Lipitor, to help reduce your cholesterol, especially you LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Alone, the medication isn’t as effective though, so don’t plan to rely on a pill to lower your cholesterol.
These are just a few of the ways you can lower your cholesterol, and I’m sure your doctor can recommend more! If you have had high cholesterol in the past, how did you lower it? DO you have any other tips to share? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: ilikegranola.com