7 Tips for Combating High Cholesterol

By now you don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that too much cholesterol is bad for your heart health. If you have high cholesterol, you certainly aren’t alone. About 95 million adults in the United States have unhealthy cholesterol levels. This makes fighting high cholesterol a health priority. 

To arm patients with knowledge on managing cholesterol, we’ve put together seven practical ways you can start getting your cholesterol under control today.

Tip #1: Eat cholesterol-fighting foods

What you eat has a major impact on cholesterol balance. Indulge in too much saturated fat and levels of harmful cholesterol will rise. The good news is you can use food to your advantage. Incorporating cholesterol-lowering foods into your diet is an excellent way to fight high cholesterol. Here are our top three cholesterol-fighting picks:

Oats

If you pick up a container of oats, you may notice a heart symbol with a statement that oats lower the risk of heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration approved this claim because oats contain beta glucan, a soluble fiber that reduces cholesterol. Make oats a part of your heart-healthy diet.

Beans

Oats aren’t the only cholesterol-lowering food though, as beans are especially rich in soluble fiber, too. With so many types of beans and the myriad ways to prepare them, you have endless options for incorporating more beans into your diet. No matter what type of bean you like best, they’re all rich in soluble fiber and provide cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Fish

Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats your body needs to function properly and that also help lower LDL cholesterol. To reap cholesterol-battling benefits, aim to eat fatty fish 2-3 times a week.

Tip #2: Limit saturated fat

Out of all the components in your diet, saturated fat has the strongest influence on raising levels of bad cholesterol. Limiting saturated fat from fatty cuts of meat, butter, cheese, and other dairy foods and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can get your cholesterol numbers moving in the right direction.

Tip #3: Lose weight

Most adults are carrying some excess weight, and the extra pounds work against healthy cholesterol levels. On the upside, even modest weight loss of 10% of your total body weight has a potent impact on lowering cholesterol. If you’re overweight, shedding some of the excess weight can have a major impact on fighting high cholesterol.

Tip #4: Quit smoking

Despite what we know about the negative health effects of smoking, it’s estimated that more than 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes and roughly half of them are living with a smoking-related disease. Not only does smoking damage your arteries, it lowers levels of good cholesterol. 

People who smoke are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers. If you smoke and you struggle with high cholesterol, it’s even more crucial that you take steps to stop smoking. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past, talk to your doctor about resources to help you quit. Medications and programs are available.

Tip #5: Move more

Along with making changes to your diet, exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight high cholesterol naturally. Physical activity boosts good cholesterol and lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL. It does this even if you’re currently overweight. Research shows that when combined with a heart-healthy diet, physical activity like walking, jogging, or cycling improves cholesterol in obese adults.

Tip #6: Moderate alcohol consumption

Moderate alcohol consumption may offer health benefits, such as boosting good cholesterol and lowering the risk of heart disease. This is no reason to start drinking if you don’t currently consume alcohol though. 

Heavy drinking, on the other hand, has a negative influence on cholesterol and increases the risk of developing heart disease. Avoiding heavy alcohol consumption can improve your cholesterol levels. Stick to moderate alcohol consumption. Moderate intake is considered two drinks a day for men and one drink per day for women.

Tip #7: Discuss medication

Lifestyle changes are often enough to bring your numbers down if you have high cholesterol. However, if your cholesterol is severely elevated or you have other factors that make it more difficult to control cholesterol, lifestyle changes aren’t always enough. Protecting your heart is the number one priority. If your levels remain elevated despite lifestyle changes, discuss cholesterol-lowering medication with your doctor.

High cholesterol is a serious threat to your heart health. Partnering with a health professional like our board-certified cardiologist Dr. Kunal Patel, is a wise place to start on the path to improved cholesterol. Visit us here at the NJ Cardiovascular Institute for a checkup and for more information about how you can keep your heart healthy. Call 201-866-7000 to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Secaucus or Newark, New Jersey. Additionally, we accept booking requests here on our website

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