If you recently had an annual physical, chances are your doctor might have ordered blood work to take a look at your cholesterol level. If your bad cholesterol, or LDL (low-density lipoprotein), is above 130 mg/dl, it will likely be flagged high. LDL is bad because it is the kind of cholesterol that can build up in the walls of your arteries and increase your risk of heart attach and stroke. Regardless of whether or not you need to be on a cholesterol lowering medication, here are some of the things you can do to lower your LDL level:
1. Avoid saturated and trans fats
Saturated fat mainly come from animal sources, like beef, pork, chicken, and dairy. Trans fat comes processed food that include partially hydrogenated oils. These are the kinds of fat that can raise your LDL level. Instead, substitute animal fats with plant-based fats from nuts, seeds and avocado. These monounsaturated fats are much healthier for your arteries. Remember that fat is an essential part of your diet as many hormones are made out of fat, so going completely fat free is not healthy either. Fat can also make you feel fuller sooner, thereby preventing you from eating too much and gaining weight.
2. Eat more fiber
The good bacteria that live inside your gut can help remove LDL from your body. So in order to promote growth of good bacteria which feeds on soluble fiber, you should eat more food items such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (i.e. beans and lentil) and whole grains.
3. Get moving
Exercise not only reduces LDL but also raises your good cholesterol (HDL). HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is good in that it removes the LDL from the walls of your artery. You don’t have to engage in high intensity exercise to reap the benefit, but the higher the intensity and longer the duration of the exercise, the more positive the impact will be.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking lowers your HDL and increase the formation of cholesterol plaque in your arteries. The chemicals in cigarette smoke also increase risk of blood clot through its blood thickening effect.
It’s important to follow up with with your doctor so that you can continue to monitor your cholesterol level together. You can decide together how often to check your cholesterol level based on your risk factors.
High Cholesterol Be Damned
Having elevated level of low density lipoprotein (LDL) increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, but there are things that you can do about it right now to correct it.