Many of us, during our regular checkups with our doctors, are told we need to lower our cholesterol. LDL cholesterol (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, as opposed to HDL, or “good” cholesterol) can increase our risk of heart disease or stroke because it sticks to the insides of our blood vessels and restricts blood flow.
As we get older, our bodies tend to produce more cholesterol, so our cholesterol levels are especially important to keep an eye on.
There is no magic way to maintain healthy cholesterol levels without putting in hard work, so if you have high cholesterol, you’ll need to make a few lifestyle changes. Here are four simple things you can start doing today to achieve healthy cholesterol levels:
Lose weight. Extra weight contributes to high cholesterol. Each day, find small changes you can make to take steps toward weight loss. For example:
- Instead of snacking on potato chips, grab a couple carrot sticks.
- Every 30 minutes, get up from your chair and walk around the room (even standing up periodically has benefit).
- Drink more water.
Small changes can lead to the formation of good habits that can pay large dividends over time in lowering cholesterol levels.
Exercise. Moving your body regularly can help increase the LDL cholesterol in your body while also helping you lose weight. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day for a healthier heart. Whatcom County offers many wonderful walking opportunities.
Adjust your diet. Specific changes to what you eat can do wonders for heart health. Saturated fats — appearing in such natural products as dairy and meat — can be eaten in moderation, but reducing their levels in your diet is a great step forward. Another step is to eliminate trans fats; when shopping, check labels and avoid buying anything containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. On the positive side, increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood pressure, and eating more soluble fiber can help keep cholesterol from entering your bloodstream. Eat more fruits and vegetables, eat less sugar and fat.
Don’t smoke. Nicotine reduces LDL cholesterol levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, your risk of heart disease one year after quitting smoking is half that of a smoker. What’s more, it takes just three months after quitting for your blood circulation to improve and lungs to work better.
Seek assistance. Helping you along your path to achieving the above goals is one way an at-home caregiver can be of service. Caregivers can accompany you on walks, cook heart-healthy meals and help you remember to increase your water intake. They also can accompany you to doctor visits as you attempt to learn more about treatment options. To learn more about how caregivers can help, give Take My Hand At-Home Care a call.