This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078
High cholesterol plays a prime role in contributing towards various major diseases such as heart diseases or stroke. Eating too many fatty foods, not exercising enough, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking can all increase your risk of having high cholesterol levels. Fortunately, with lifestyle modifications, healthy habits, and the help of cholesterol-lowering medicines, you can effectively control your cholesterol.
Tips to control high blood cholesterol
Exercise: Regular exercise can help to raise good cholesterol in your body while lowering bad cholesterol. It does not matter what form of exercise you do, whether it's brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. The key is to do it regularly. If you are constantly sitting at your desk, try to get up and walk around every few hours. Maintaining a healthy weight is a prime concern while trying to control your blood cholesterol.
Avoid saturated fat: Consuming saturated fat can elevate your cholesterol levels and prove to be more fatal than anything else you eat. It is important that you consume monounsaturated fat instead of saturated fat, as the former helps to lower LDL(bad cholesterol) while raising HDL (good cholesterol). Peanut butter, olive oil, avocados, and canola oils are a good source of monounsaturated fats.
Fibres: Fibres are found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. The soluble fibre found in plant foods helps to lower cholesterol in your body. It binds bile acids in the intestines with cholesterol and helps to evacuate them out of your body. Regular intake of fibre-rich foods will help you to effective lower LDL levels.
Lower your meat intake: Meat is considered to play a major role in elevating your cholesterol levels. Try to trim off the skin and fat from poultry and meats. If possible, choose lean meats and avoid fatty cuts of pork, beef, and lamb. Excessive intake of meat in your diet will increase your cholesterol levels.
Eat fish: Fish are a powerhouse of cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. They play a key role in bringing down your cholesterol and helping you to maintain a steady cholesterol level. While salmon is considered to be extremely beneficial, you can also consume other oily fishes such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, halibut, or herring. Fish oil supplements can also be considered to fulfill your body's requirement of omega-3 fatty acids.
Medications: Modification in your lifestyle is the most important step to reduce your cholesterol. But, if the cardiovascular risk is excessive, you might need the help of cholesterol-lowering medication to combat your ailment. The most common medicines used to lower high cholesterol are called statins. They reduce the amount of cholesterol that your body produces. If statins don't work, there are other tablets such as ezetimibe, fibrates, and bile acid sequestrants, or injections such as alirocumab and evolocumab.
Low-fat dairy products: Instead of opting for dairy products that contain whole cream or milk, try consuming low-fat or non-fat products.
Nuts: Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans might also help to keep your blood vessels healthy. But try to eat in moderation, as nuts are rich in calories and will increase the chances of unhealthy weight gain. Also, look for non-salted and non-fried nuts.
Quit smoking: Smoking can raise your cholesterol levels and put you at a greater risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Click here for tips to quit smoking.
Cut down on drinking: Drinking too much alcohol can raise the cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. If your triglyceride levels become too high, they can cause fatty liver disease. This causes the liver to stop working as well as it should, meaning your cholesterol levels rise. You should aim to avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, have several drink free days per week, and avoid drinking excessively in a short period of time (binge drinking).
Make a commitment
It's important to make a commitment to yourself to lower your cholesterol levels. Making necessary changes to live a healthy and well-balanced life will create a long-lasting impact. Regular monitoring of your cholesterol levels will inform you about your progress and will help you to achieve your goals. You can take a home-test with SELFcheck Cholesterol Level Test to easily monitor your cholesterol levels in the comfort of your home.
It is important that you consult your GP, to learn about the various dietary changes, exercise routine and medicines that can help you to maintain healthy blood cholesterol in your body.