Many Americans have faced the issue of high cholesterol. For some, this prognosis may come as a surprise. For others, they may have expected it as a result of their lifestyle choices. Since high cholesterol puts patients at higher risk of heart disease, it is important to get a handle on it quickly. Dr. Benjamin Cory Harow has encountered countless patients with high cholesterol in his practice and has suggestions for how to lower it.
Avoid Fatty Foods
Most people can agree that butter, bacon, and steak are delicious. However, these fatty foods are detrimental to a healthy heart and overall healthy lifestyle. Even foods that seem to be good alternatives, such as margarine, contain trans-fat which can also increase cholesterol. Instead, look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and nuts, increase fiber, and focus on increasing protein intake. These diet changes can still be delicious and nutritious, and the changes don’t have to be overwhelming. Try replacing a weekly hamburger and French fries with fish and baked sweet potato fries. Olive oil is a great replacement for butter or margarine. Small changes can make all the difference.
The Emergency Medicine Specialist believes that exercise is a great tool for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL). Exercising for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help make a significant dent in bad cholesterol. Not interested in 30-minute blocks of cardio? Ten-minute bursts of exercise are just as effective. People who are new to exercise can start even smaller: park farther away at the grocery store, take the stairs at work, or do a few jumping jacks during commercial breaks. Getting moving is the most important thing.
Kick the Cigarettes
Most smokers know about the consequences of smoking such as potential for lung disease, but how many know that it can affect their cholesterol? Quitting smoking can increase the “good” cholesterol within a matter of minutes, and even more over the course of months and years.
Hopefully, avoiding fatty foods and moving more will help take care of this step. It’s worth mentioning that losing weight, even just a few pounds, can help lower cholesterol. In addition to the changes in diet and exercise, some people may consider seeking help from a nutritionist or getting an accountability partner to encourage weight loss. Apps that help to track progress can also be great motivators. Whatever route, make sure that the weight loss is sustainable.
Cut Down on Alcohol
All good things in moderation. Using alcohol in moderation can actually help with cholesterol while drinking more than the recommended daily amount can lead to further health problems. Women should have only one drink per day. Men under 65 can have two drinks per day.
Check in With a Healthcare Provider
If none of these natural solutions work, some people with high cholesterol may need to speak with their doctor about medication while continuing these lifestyle changes.