High levels of bad cholesterol can wreak havoc on your health, so it’s important to find ways to reduce cholesterol. If left unchecked, it can lead to serious problems like diabetes, heart disease, or even Alzheimer’s Disease.
Cholesterol plays a role in the body’s metabolism, so having too much can lead to serious health problems. In this article, we talk about 10 different ways that you can cut their bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.
How do I know if my cholesterol is high?
A check-up with your doctor can inform you of the actual levels for good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). Schedule a medical check-up at a time that is convenient to you.
You will be asked to provide blood, which will then be analyzed in a MOH approved laboratory. Depending on the results of your tests, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes.
What is a bad cholesterol (LDL) level?
When it comes to LDL cholesterol numbers and heart health – lower is better. A high level can raise your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) related problems like chest pain or a stroke. This type of event could happen even if you don’t have any symptoms yet.
Here is a table that shows what should your LDL level be:
|Bad Cholesterol (LDL) Level||Bad Cholesterol Category|
|Less than 100mg/L||Optimal|
|100 – 129 mg/L||Near/Above Optimal|
|130 – 159 mg/L||Borderline High|
|160 – 189 mg/L||High|
|190 mg/L and above||Very High|
What happens when you have too much LDL?
The body’s cells need good fats called lipoproteins such as low density lipoprotein (LDL). However, if there is too much LDL, it can cause a build-up of cholesterol in the system. This is called atherosclerosis and this clogs up the arteries leading to your heart which will reduce blood flow.
A person with high levels of bad cholesterol may experience symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath while exercising. If not treated properly, they could also get serious conditions such as heart attack or stroke.
How to reduce cholesterol (LDL)?
The best way to reduce bad cholesterol is through lifestyle changes. That include eating healthier, quitting bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol, and many more.
There are also certain medicines that will help lower total cholesterol. For example, statins and niacin along with fish oils (EPA/DHA) have been shown effective in lowering triglycerides (another type of fat found in the blood). If nothing else works, surgery can be an option to help lower cholesterol.
Best ways to reduce bad cholesterol
There are plenty of resources that show and explain different ways to reducing bad cholesterol. But it can be a daunting task to go through one website after another. To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list sourced from doctors, nutritionists, and medical websites.
Here are the 10 best ways to reduce cholesterol:
1. Eat healthily
A diet focused mainly on healthy complex carbs like vegetables instead of simple carbohydrates help keeps your heart healthy. These include refined sugar or white bread, along with protein from lean sources (fish, poultry), and low-fat dairy products. One cup daily of soy milk provides 15 grams of unsaturated fat, has no cholesterol, and is low in sugar.
Eat green leafy vegetables like spinach. They have vitamin C which may help reduce LDL compounds in the blood from the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Eat fish rich in omega-three fatty acids like salmon. They also help to lower triglycerides, raise HDLs, and reduce risk of coronary artery disease.
Other good sources of omega-three fatty acids are:
- Trout or tuna canned without oil or salt added
- Oysters and mussels cooked with garlic but not fried butter sauce
Limit how much seafood you eat at any one time though. They are also higher than other sources in calories, fat, and cholesterol.
Low-fat dairy products are a good choice for reducing LDLs because they contain less saturated fat than high-fat ones like butter or cheese.
You should also eat more fiber especially soluble fiber like oats and barley. They can help lower LDL and increase HDL through a process called bile acid sequestration. It binds up excess bile acid in the intestines so less gets into the bloodstream where it might be converted to LDL.
2. Avoid trans fats to decrease LDLs and increase HDLs
Trans fats are found in processed foods like cookies, crackers, cakes, and pies. They also replace the healthy oils (unsaturated fat) in many commercially fried items such as potato chips or french fries.
It’s important not to eat these types of high-cholesterol deep-fried dishes more than once a month. They’re often made with unhealthy hydrogenated oil that contains trans fat.
Also, limit your intake of red meat because it is high in saturated fats which increase bad cholesterol (LDL).
3. Cut out sugar intake
Eat foods that contain natural sugars like fruits (except bananas). Skip those containing added sugars such as sweetened fruit juice, chocolate milk, ice cream, etc.
Make sure you don’t go over 15 grams per day though. This should lower your triglyceride level too.
4. Take flaxseed and garlic supplements
Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily in your cereal or on an oatmeal biscuit for breakfast with some fruit. This will help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s rich in omega fatty acids which are healthy oils that provide the body with energy.
Aside from adding flaxseed to your diet, garlic has been shown to lower total serum homocysteine levels. It may help reduce atherosclerosis risk factors including heart disease from plaque buildup on artery walls.
5. Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes per day
Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes a day and use some form of physical activity while watching TV. This is because it reduces your bad cholesterol and boosts your good cholesterol.
Exercise also helps to control weight and reduce high blood pressure. The best way to exercise is by doing cardiovascular exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, or going for a run.
It’s advisable to not eat right before you go exercise. This will only increase your heart rate and affect how efficiently you’ll burn fat while exercising. Try to exercise on an empty stomach so you can maximize energy burned during your workout session.
6. Maintain a healthy weight
Maintain a healthy weight by not overeating or skipping meals (most overweight people have high levels of LDL).
Obesity has been linked to higher triglyceride levels. Keep track of what you eat and how much you exercise each day because.
7. Quit smoking
Nicotine increases LDL while also impeding blood flow which could lead to heart attack or stroke.
It also affects how well insulin works in converting sugar into energy. But that’s just one example among many other things it does besides increasing LDLs such as lowering HDLs (good cholesterol).
It increases the tendency of getting clogged arteries. Your oxygenated blood flows slower through them because they contain carbon monoxide which blocks oxygenation cells into red blood cells. Ultimately, they make you more prone to bad cholesterol.
8. Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol consumption is linked with elevated triglycerides, bad cholesterol, and reduced good cholesterol levels. Regularly drinking wine can cause your HDL to drop as well. So, limit how much you drink on a daily basis if any at all.
9. Get enough restful sleep each night
Sleep is vital for our body’s functions and is an important factor in helping reduce cholesterol. Restful sleep can help to:
- Regulate your blood sugar levels
- Increase good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol
- Lessen the risk of heart disease or stroke
Studies have shown that those who get less than seven hours per night of sleep have higher LDL cholesterol levels and are at a higher risk of heart disease than those who sleep for eight hours.
Put away your smartphone before you sleep. If you want to watch TV, do it several hours before bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic screens can actually cause your brain to secrete more cortisol. This stress hormone – cortisol – is known to increase cholesterol production.
10. Reduce stress levels
Stress can affect the way your body handles cholesterol and how much you produce due to elevated levels of cortisol that’s released when we’re stressed out.
In order to reduce stress levels, find ways like exercising or meditating which will help detoxify your liver from these harmful substances so it doesn’t cause high cholesterol.
Reduce your stress level by exercising or practicing relaxation techniques like meditation so it’s easier for your body to detoxify itself from harmful substances that can lead to high cholesterol.
We hope you found this article helpful in learning how to reduce cholesterol. If you have any questions about how to improve your health or need help with a specific issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Smarter Health!
You can also leave your details on Smarter Health if you would like to schedule an appointment to consult with a doctor. Our team of experts will be happy to answer all your questions and get the ball rolling so that you can live healthier.