If you have high cholesterol levels, you are not alone. About one-third of American adults have high cholesterol. This puts them at risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Fortunately, there are ways to lower your cholesterol levels safely. In this article, we will discuss three methods that have been shown to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels.
High Cholesterol Facts You Need to Know
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015-2018 nearly 12% of adults aged 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and about 17% had low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL. Additionally, slightly more than half of all American adults (54.5%, or 47 million) who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.
Of particular concern are the 94 million U.S. adults age 20 or older who have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL; 28 million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL. Finally, 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol. These statistics underscore the importance of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and taking medication as prescribed by a doctor.
High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high. A simple blood test can check cholesterol levels. The CDC states that having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC also reports that about 73 million American adults have bad (LDL) cholesterol levels that are above what’s considered healthy and only 1 in 3 have their condition under control.
Controlling cholesterol can be done through lifestyle changes and, if needed, medication. Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity can help to improve cholesterol levels. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol. There are many different types of medications available, so be sure to talk to your doctor about which one is right for you.
3 Tips to Lower Cholesterol Safely
If you have high cholesterol and are looking to lower it, there’s often no need for medication. Three methods can help: eating a healthy diet (especially with less saturated fat), maintaining regular physical activity levels, or start taking cholesterol-lowering supplements right away!
1. Eat a balanced diet
A diet low in saturated and unhealthy fats can help lower your cholesterol. Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, can actually help improve your cholesterol levels. So, including healthy fats in your diet is important. But, you also want to limit the amount of unhealthy fats you eat.
Saturated fats are found in many animal products, such as beef, pork, and poultry. They’re also found in some plant-based oils, such as palm and coconut oil. These types of fats can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. That’s why it’s important to limit the amount of saturated fat you eat to no more than 10% of your daily calories.
You should also avoid trans fats. These are usually found in processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, crackers, and chips. Even if a food is labeled “trans fat-free,” it may still contain small amounts of these unhealthy fats. So, it’s best to avoid eating these types of foods altogether.
By following these guidelines, you can help keep your cholesterol levels in check and lower your risk for heart disease.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including lower cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in the arteries and lead to heart disease.
Exercise helps to lower cholesterol levels by promoting the production of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and reducing the production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. In addition, exercise helps to improve the flexibility of arteries and reduce the risk of blood clots. As a result, regular exercise can help to lower your risk of heart disease.
So make sure to get moving and get your heart pumping on a regular basis!
3. Take cholesterol-lowering supplements
There are several different supplements that can help to lower cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic recommends supplements such as berberine, fish oil, flaxseed, garlic, green tea, niacin, and plant stanols.
- Berberine is a plant extract that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce triglyceride levels.
- Flaxseed is a source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which can help to lower cholesterol levels.
- Garlic has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Green tea contains catechins, which are antioxidants that can help to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- Niacin is a type of vitamin B3 that can raise HDL cholesterol levels.
- Plant stanols are chemicals that are found in plants. They work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.
If you are thinking about taking a dietary supplement to lower your cholesterol, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider first. They will be able to advise you on whether or not a particular supplement is right for you.
Sometimes Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough
Making lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, eating a healthier diet, and taking supplements, can help to lower cholesterol levels. However, sometimes these changes are not enough to achieve the desired results. In these cases, medication may be necessary to help lower cholesterol levels.
Statins are medications used to lower a patient’s LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. They are typically taken every day, as prescribed by a doctor, and should never be stopped without consulting a doctor first. Statins work by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is necessary for the production of cholesterol. This reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.
It’s also crucial to never stop taking a statin without first consulting with your doctor. Stopping a statin suddenly can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. If you have any questions or concerns about taking a statin, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Lifestyle Changes for Healthy Living
Making lifestyle changes is always the preferred method for improving cholesterol levels, but if you find that making these changes isn’t enough then don’t worry, your doctor has medications to help. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new medication and read our Healthy Living articles for more information on how to make healthy changes in your life.
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