High cholesterol levels invariably increase the chances of developing heart diseases which is why it is imperative to keep a strict eye on the blood cholesterol levels. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure, here are 10 great ways to keep your cholesterol levels under control.
- Eat Healthier Fats
Saturated fats, such as those found in red meat, olive oil, canola oil and dairy products etc., are heart-friendly and help reduce the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol-the bad cholesterol- in the body. Omega 3 fats found in fish are also beneficial. Furthermore, it is better to avoid the trans fats, like those obtained from fried foods, snacks etc., since they lower the level of good (high density lipoprotein, HDL) cholesterol in the body.
- Fiber Up
Soluble fiber is known to slow down the absorption of cholesterol and can help restrain the cholesterol levels. Beans, vegetables, apricots etc. are rich sources of soluble fiber and should be incorporated in diet.
Increase your daily activity level since exercise can help boost the level of HDL cholesterol in the body, exerting a beneficial effect on the heart. Regular aerobic exercises like stationary cycling, swimming, brisk walking, jogging etc., done even for 15 minutes a day, can turn out to be extremely advantageous.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking cessation dramatically improves the lipid profile of the body by elevating the levels of HDL cholesterol. Smoking, combined with high cholesterol, can wreak havoc on the blood vessels and heart so it is essential to stop smoking at once if you suspect that your cholesterol levels are getting out of hand.
- Reduce Weight
If you are obese, getting rid of all the extra pounds can help improve your cholesterol levels. Stay clear of fattening foods. Consume foods that promote weight loss like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables etc. Adopt a more active lifestyle instead of a sedentary one.
- Avoid Alcohol
Cut down on your alcohol consumption if you want to keep your cholesterol levels under check. Combined with high cholesterol, alcohol consumption can directly increase the chances of having high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
- Use Medicines
If lifestyle changes alone fail to control your rampant cholesterol levels, a doctor can prescribe you medicines, such as statins, to help reduce your blood cholesterol level. Adhere to your medicinal regime if you want to avoid the long term complications of high blood cholesterol.
- Take Supplements
Vitamin B3 (niacin) supplementation can help enhance the level of HDL cholesterol while lowering the level of LDL cholesterol at the same time. The supplementation should be initiated only after consultation with a doctor, though.
- Avoid Stress
In order to improve the health of your heart and blood vessels, it is necessary to avoid stressful situations. Indulge in positive activities that help you relax, such as meditation, yoga, book reading etc.
- Go Natural
Some of the natural herbs and spices that are commonly used, such as black pepper, garlic, cinnamon etc. are rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress and protect the blood vessels against cholesterol plaque formation (atherosclerosis), thereby preventing heart diseases and stroke.