Lowering your cholesterol without medications

heart-health

High blood cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease.

If your physician has warned you to keep an eye on your cholesterol, there may be a few modifications you can make to your exercise and diet habits before starting cholesterol lowering medications.

STOP SMOKING

One out of every five smoking-related deaths is caused by cardiovascular disease.

How does smoking affect cholesterol? Smoking changes the properties of blood vessels and blood cells - allowing cholesterol and other fatty substances to build up.

Per the American Heart Association, eliminating smoking reduces the risk of coronary heart disease AND reduces the risk of repeat heart attacks and death due to heart disease by 50 percent.

EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS

A fitness and exercise routine is a great way to improve your heart health. Benefits also include mood improvement and weight loss, which can indirectly help the function of your heart. A new exercise routine can raise your HDL, or “good,” cholesterol and lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.

You should always consult with your physician before starting an exercise program. It’s important to start gradually and work yourself into a steady routine. 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity is recommended each week. If walking or jogging isn’t for you, try biking, swimming or taking a dancing class.

EAT MORE FISH

Part of a heart-healthy diet, fish is low in saturated fat and many types contain the Omega-3 fatty acids that help lower cholesterol and triglycerides. The AHA recommends a serving of fish (three to four ounces) at least twice a week.

Tired of tuna and salmon for your weekly fill? Try trout, halibut or even swordfish.

AVOCADOS, BRAN AND ALMONDS, TOO

  • Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, fiber phytosterols and other nutrients believed to lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
  • A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that adults who eat a large bowl of oat bran cereal every day reduced their blood cholesterol levels by a moderate amount.
  • Almonds are high in “good” fat and contain no cholesterol or sodium.

Get creative in your use of these ingredients in your diet. Try avocado on your toast in the morning. Pack almonds as a quick, afternoon snack. Making minor improvements to your snacking habits can go a long way.

It’s important to remember to get your cholesterol level checked. If these alternatives haven’t helped your numbers, speak with your doctor about medications that may be needed or further recommendations for lifestyle changes.

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