Cholesterol is one of the factors related to cardiovascular diseases, blood fat, and coronary arteries. So, when is it necessary to reduce cholesterol and how can it be effectively lowered? Please refer to the article below to understand more about cholesterol and learn how to maintain a healthy balance in your body.
When to Reduce Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is one of the three essential lipids in the circulatory system. Its main roles include hormone synthesis (Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, Cortisol, Aldosterone), vitamin D production, and support for digestion. However, if the cholesterol level in the blood increases, it can lead to various health risks such as atherosclerosis, abnormal blood pressure, gallstones, stroke, and coronary heart disease.
To ensure good health, it’s important to understand the cholesterol levels in your body, as follows:
- Normal health status: Total cholesterol level <200 mg/dL (5.1 mmol/L) indicates a very low risk of coronary artery disease.
- Having or having had health issues: Total cholesterol level between 200 – 239 mg/dL (5.1 – 6.2 mmol/L). Requires moderate lifestyle changes and regular health monitoring to detect issues early and address them promptly.
- High cholesterol levels: Total cholesterol level >= 240 mg/dL (6.2 mmol/L) indicates a significant risk of atherosclerosis and requires timely treatment.
Therefore, if you are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases or already have heart-related conditions, it is crucial to take measures to lower your cholesterol levels.
5 Effective Ways to Reduce Blood Fat and Cholesterol
For every 10% reduction in cholesterol levels in the body, the risk of coronary heart disease also decreases by 20–30%. Additionally, maintaining normal cholesterol levels helps minimize the risk of related dangerous conditions. Most of us can effectively lower cholesterol without the need for medication. Here are 5 methods to reduce cholesterol that you can consider.
Eat Heart-Healthy Foods for Cardiovascular Health
Diet directly impacts the body’s health and disease risk. Make some changes in your eating habits to reduce cholesterol and improve your overall health. Specifically:
- Reduce saturated fat: This type of fat increases bad cholesterol levels in the body. Cut back on foods containing saturated fat, such as fatty meats, butter, cream, cookies, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils used in processed foods.
- Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that lower the risk of heart disease, memory loss, and high blood pressure. Foods high in omega-3 include salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
- Increase soluble fiber intake: Soluble fiber has the ability to reduce cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream, thereby lowering overall blood fat and cholesterol levels. Many fruits, vegetables, oats, and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber.
- Supplement with whey protein: Several studies have shown that whey protein can reduce both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in the blood. You can supplement your diet with whey protein by using formula milk. Additionally, everyday foods like meat, fish, eggs, and soy products also contain whey protein.
Daily Exercise Reduces Total Cholesterol
Enhancing physical activities helps prevent the accumulation of excess fat and reduces cholesterol levels in the body. Moderate physical activity also promotes the increase of beneficial High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body.
Experts recommend dedicating 30 minutes each day to exercise. Exercising five times a week or doing 20 minutes of aerobic dancing three times a week can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body. You can also utilize short intervals during the day for activities like walking, cycling, playing sports, etc. Consider finding an exercise buddy or joining a fitness group to stay motivated and consistent with your workouts.
Stay Away from Tobacco
Tobacco harms nearly every organ in the body, including the cardiovascular system. Cigarette smoke can cause permanent damage to the heart and blood vessels, alter the blood’s chemical composition, and lead to the accumulation of cholesterol plaque in arteries.
Quitting smoking helps improve the beneficial HDL cholesterol levels in your body. You may notice some positive changes as follows:
- Within 20 minutes of quitting: Blood pressure and heart rate start to normalize after the rapid increase caused by smoking.
- Within three months of quitting: Lung and blood circulation functions begin to improve.
- Within one year of quitting: The risk of heart disease reduces, with the rate being half that of a smoker.
Losing Weight to Reduce Blood Fat and Cholesterol
Gaining weight and being overweight are also factors that can increase cholesterol levels. To reduce cholesterol, it is essential to lose weight in a healthy manner. The most important aspects to consider are diet and exercise. Additionally, there are some daily habits to note that can aid in effective weight loss.
- Drink plenty of filtered water instead of sugary beverages or carbonated drinks.
- Avoid overeating by dividing meals into smaller portions and chew food slowly to prevent excessive calorie intake.
- Incorporate physical activity into your routine, such as using stairs instead of elevators, taking a walk after meals, or engaging in light exercises after prolonged sitting.
Limit alcohol consumption
Alcoholic beverages are generally considered unhealthy. Excessive alcohol intake can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, moderate alcohol consumption can increase beneficial HDL cholesterol in the body. To balance the benefits and risks of alcohol, it is recommended to follow these guidelines:
- For most people, limit alcohol intake to a maximum of 1-2 drinks per day.
- Women and men over 65 should not consume more than 1 small drink per day.
- Individuals with chronic illnesses, underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and others should avoid alcohol.
It is crucial to emphasize that excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to anyone. In severe cases, heavy alcohol users may face risks such as alcohol poisoning, heart failure, stroke, blood pressure disorders,…
Some Notes on Reducing Cholesterol
Reducing cholesterol is not overly difficult, but it cannot yield immediate results overnight. Therefore, you must be determined and maintain healthy habits in a moderate manner. Additionally, to effectively reduce cholesterol, consider the following points:
Regularly monitor your blood fat and total cholesterol levels to understand your health status better. Consult with doctors or specialists to create a scientifically and suitable cholesterol-lowering plan. If you notice any unusual symptoms, seek medical attention promptly. Do not self-prescribe medications for reducing blood fat or cholesterol. Only use medications if prescribed and guided by a specialized doctor.
The above information provides insights into cholesterol and safe, effective ways to reduce it. Hopefully, this article has brought useful information to help you take better care of your health.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.