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How to Lower LDL Cholesterol
- Not only is it important to know what your total cholesterol levels are, but it’s even more important to keep your LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) in check
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidelines that will help you lower LDL cholesterol levels. Some of these tips include adding cardiovascular exercises to your weekly routine and eating a low cholesterol diet
- If you are overweight, have high cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels, another way to aid in reducing cholesterol is to increase your overall physical activity and lose weight
Heart disease and stroke are two of the most common causes of death in the United States. Both can be tied, in part, to high levels of LDL cholesterol. For your overall good health, you should not only know what your cholesterol levels are, but be aware of some of the ways to lower LDL cholesterol so you can reduce your risk of developing these health problems.
What is LDL Cholesterol?
Our bodies remove excess cholesterol through our livers; however, even the most efficient liver can only handle so much cholesterol. If we take in too much, some of it will end up back in our blood. The American Heart Association (AHA) explains that when we have high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL levels) in our blood, we are increasing our risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque on artery walls.
As the available space in arteries begins narrows, the formation of a clot in the bloodstream could cause a blockage in that narrowed passage. When blood flow becomes blocked, we can suffer a heart attack or a stroke.
Reducing LDL Cholesterol
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued some guidelines that can help you lower LDL cholesterol through what is known as Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC). The TLC guidelines include three components. First, you need to change your diet. To lower LDL cholesterol levels you should drastically cut the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. Less than 7 percent of your caloric intake should come from saturated fat and you should consume less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol daily. You may also want to increase your intake of soluble fiber and food containing plant sterols. Both can help boost your efforts in the right direction.
If you have high cholesterol and are overweight, losing weight can help improve your numbers as well. This is especially important if you have high LDL numbers combined with low HDL levels and high triglycerides, as well as a waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
Additionally, doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily may not help you lose a significant amount of weight, but it can further lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Foods that Lower LDL Cholesterol
The Mayo Clinic also recommends consuming certain types of foods that have been proven to reduce the amount of LDL levels in the blood. Starting your day out with a bowl of oatmeal is a good start. Throw in some bananas or an apple and you’ve boosted the effectiveness even more. Because oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, it reduces the amount of cholesterol your body will absorb.
Walnuts would be another good food addition. If you eat about 2 ounces of walnuts every day, you could lower LDL cholesterol by up to 12 percent. If you’re not a fan of walnuts, try almonds instead. Be sure to use these nuts as substitutes for foods rich in saturated fats to maximize the benefits.
Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids is also a good idea. You’ll find high levels in many types of fish, including sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon. Canola oil and flaxseed oil are also good sources. Most physicians today suggest eating fish at least twice a week in order to lower LDL cholesterol. These fatty acids can also reduce the risk of blood clots and lower blood pressure.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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