Published December 22, 2011
Cholesterol is a type of lipid or fat that travels through the blood stream in particles called lipoproteins. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). High cholesterol can cause strain on your heart, greatly increasing your chances of developing life-threatening conditions such as heart disease. Fortunately, there are a variety of remedies and lifestyle adjustments that help reduce and manage your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Your doctor can help devise an effective strategy for lowering your cholesterol level, but here are five proven methods to consider.
Monitor cholesterol levels
Keeping a close eye on your cholesterol levels is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that everyone over the age of 20 test their cholesterol at least once every five years. If your cholesterol has reached dangerous levels, it may be wise to receive regular examinations until they return to normal.
Keeping track of what you eat and making small dietary changes can have an enormous impact on your cholesterol levels. Avoid foods containing significant amounts of saturated fats and calories. Instead, choose heart-healthy foods such as fish and fish oil, which are loaded with omea-3 fatty acids, proven to reduce cholesterol. Whenever possible, eat plant-based foods, rich in phytonutrients and with a low glycemic load. A balanced diet should also include high fiber foods, such as fruit and vegetables, along with whole grain foods, dieticians recommend. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are also great foods for lowering cholesterol levels, though they should be consumed in moderation due to their high calorie content.
Taking small measures to improve your lifestyle can not only lower your cholesterol, but also help you to lose weight and improve your overall heart heath. Doctors recommend engaging in some form of exercise for about 30 minutes per day. Aerobic exercise such as swimming, walking and jogging are considered particularly helpful at controlling and lowering cholesterol. You should also address bad lifestyle habits that increase your risk of heart disease. If your cholesterol is high, cutting out smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption can significantly reduce your risk of developing serious cardiovascular conditions, the NIH advises.
While a healthy and balanced diet should provide the nutrients necessary to combat high cholesterol, certain supplements may also help support healthy cholesterol particle size, according to doctors. Vitamin supplements such as omega-3, vitamin D3 and glucomannan — a dietary fiber — are all available over the counter. You could also consult your doctor about stronger prescription supplements, such as high dose niacin and Vitamin B3 (Niacin).
Sometimes, even the most prudent lifestyle adjustments and natural remedies may only achieve limited success. In such cases you may require additional medication to effectively manage your cholesterol, particularly if your cardiovascular risk is high. Statins – medications that lower levels of LDL cholesterol – are the most commonly prescribed drug for individuals struggling with their cholesterol levels. Other medications such as bile acid resins and fibrates, which work to lowering blood triglyceride levels, may also prove effective at expediting the process.