The amount of cholesterol in your blood is one of the major deciding factors in whether or not you will develop cardiovascular disease. When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it begins to build up on the walls of your arteries through the process of atherosclerosis, which causes your arteries to become narrowed or completely blocked. When this happens, a heart attack or stroke can occur.
What Can You Do to Avoid High Cholesterol?
There are certain risk factors for high cholesterol that cannot be controlled, such as your age and family history. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes that you can make that may help reduce your odds of developing high cholesterol, or assist in reducing your cholesterol levels.
How Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Levels?
Eat a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
You should consume 300 milligrams (mg) or less of cholesterol each day and no more than 10% of your total calories as saturated fat. If you have heart disease, you should limit your cholesterol intake to 200 mg or less, and your saturated fat to 7% of your total calories according to the American Heart Association. Avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat, including red meats, organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk dairy products. Choose lean cuts of meat, egg whites and reduced or fat-free dairy products instead.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese can contribute to elevated cholesterol levels as well as other serious health conditions. Losing as little as 5 to 10 extra pounds may help lower your cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Engage in regular physical activity.
Physical activity has been shown to help increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in some people. Exercising regularly can also help manage other risk factors for heart disease, including being overweight, diabetes and blood pressure. Aerobic forms of exercise, such as swimming and jogging, can help strengthen your heart muscle and allow it to work more efficiently, even when you are at rest.
Work with your physician.
Ask if your doctor recommends having any further tests and discuss diet and exercise plans. This is especially important if you are diabetic, as changes in diet and exercise can affect your blood sugar and response to your medications. Be aware of the signs of low or high blood sugar and make sure you know how to manage both high and low sugar levels effectively.
Try Quaker Oats for 30 Days.
By making simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol – plus eating 3 grams of oat-soluble fiber daily for 30 days – Quaker can help you lower your cholesterol. Make it all part of your heart-healthy diet and exercise commitment.
High cholesterol levels can be managed in a variety of ways. Be sure to consult your doctor to find out what will work for you. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, get them tested, and begin to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Your heart will thank you.