Has it been a while since you’ve had your cholesterol screened? Are you at risk for heart disease?
LDL or bad cholesterol is nasty business. And, unfortunately, this artery-clogging substance often increases as we age. That’s why the American Heart Association recommend that those 20-years or older be screened for high cholesterol at least once every five years, with more frequent screenings for those at risk of heart disease.
The good news is that getting your cholesterol down to a safer level is easier than you think with these seven simple lifestyle modifications:
1. Talk to your doctor about drug therapy
If your risk of heart disease is high, you may be a candidate for cholesterol-lowering medication. According to Doctor Pamela Peeke, Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland, even though eating right and exercising will help you lose weight and lower bad cholesterol moderately, prescription medications—such as including niacin, bile acid resins, fibrates— and particularly statins will reduce LDL cholesterol faster by 20% to 50%<. Talk to your doctor first, and then look for drugs from a trusted online pharmacy to see if you can find name brand medications at less cost.
2. Get physical
Regular exercise, such as jogging or brisk walking, not only lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) it also raises HDL (good cholesterol). The best ways to incorporate regular exercise into your life it to make it a routine part of your day—for instance, go for a 45-minute walk every lunch hour with a walking group or take an after supper hike with your spouse or dog.
3. Cut saturated fats from your diet
Doctors have recently linked saturated fat in our diets with increased cholesterol. We’re not saying cut it out altogether, just try to cut your saturated fat intake in half by substituting bad fats—such as butter, shortening, lard, vegetable oil and red meat—with smart fats—such as canola oil, olive oil, avocado and fatty fish like salmon.
4. Eat fish 2 to 3 times a week
As mentioned, fatty fish (from salmon and canned tuna) and fish oils (from soybeans, flaxseeds, walnuts and almonds)are super high sources of cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids and easy to work into your diet. However, if you’re not a fan of fish, ask your doctor about supplementing with fish oil capsules, which are quite safe for those not currently taking any anti-clotting medications for heart disease.
5. Bulk up on fiber
Fish aren’t the only source of cholesterol-fighting foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables like beans, as well as oats and barley contain their share of heart-friendly antioxidants and soluble fiber—which acts like a sponge, absorbing cholesterol in the digestive tract.
6. Drink the right stuff
Yes, according to the American Heart Association, one drink a day can actually raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol). However, excessive drinking will have adverse affects and may damage your heart and liver. Sugar-laden sodas, coffees and juices can also be damaging. If you’re looking for an energy-boosting substitute, green tea has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and lower the rate of heart attack by 11-percent when adults consumption 3 cups of green tea per day.
7. Butt out
Its simple, if you smoke quit! Smoking puts you at risk for heart disease and lowers levels of HDL (good” cholesterol).