Elevated Low-density cholesterol levels are one of the risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Plaque buildup within arteries decreases blood flow affecting the function of the cells and organs that these blood vessels supply.
- Decreased blood supply to the brain may result in a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.
- Atherosclerotic heart disease or narrowed coronary arteries in the heart can cause the symptoms of angina when the heart muscle is not provided with enough oxygen to function
- Peripheral artery disease is the gradual narrowing of the arteries that supply the legs. During exercise, if the legs do not get enough blood supply, they can develop pain, called claudication.
Natural ways to reduce your cholesterol levels:
Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly:
- Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
- Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
- Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker
Exercise Regularly and increase your physical activity
Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. Work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.
Adding a physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Consider:
- Playing a favourite sport
- Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
- Riding your bike to work
Consider finding an exercise buddy or joining an exercise group to stay motivated.
Lose some weight
Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. If you drink sugary beverages, switch to tap water. Snack on air-popped popcorn or pretzels — but keep track of the calories. If you crave something sweet, try sherbet or candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans.
Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing yard work.
Stick to heart-healthy foods
Some changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health:
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. But they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds.
- Reduce saturated fats.Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol.
- Increase soluble fibre. Soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fibre is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.
- Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarine and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels.
- Add whey protein. Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
Drink in moderation alcohol
Moderate use of alcohol has been linked to higher levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.