Cholesterol is a type of lipid that’s produced by your liver. Your body needs it to create cell membranes, vitamin D, and certain hormones. There are two types of cholesterol - LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. While HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol, LDL cholesterol can do a number to your health.
If you have too high levels of LDL cholesterol for a long period of time, this can result in a heart attack or stroke. Also, high LDL causes no symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over one-third of American adults have high levels of LDL cholesterol. If you’re one of them, you need to address the problem as soon as possible. Here are some effective ways to lower your cholesterol and boost your overall health:
1. Follow a fiber-rich diet
Soluble fiber has the ability to lower bad cholesterol and prevent plaque accumulation in the arteries. Legumes, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and nuts are a great way to increase your fiber consumption.
2. Try going vegan
Vegetarian and vegan diets are more than just trends. Multiple studies have shown that a plant-based, free of processed foods diet can lower bad cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, and prevent heart attacks and strokes.
3. Give up smoking
According to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), less than two percent of doctors smoked cigarettes, and possibly even fewer doctors are smoking now. Doctors are aware of the damage cigarette smoking does every single day.
Plus, cigarette smoking lowers good cholesterol and raises your overall risk of coronary artery disease. At least one cigarette a day raises stroke and heart disease risk.
4. Get enough sleep
In fact, lack of sleep is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. If you have sleep problems, it’s crucial to address the problem, since it can negatively affect your cholesterol levels and cause new health issues. Improve your sleep hygiene habits by avoiding electronic devices in bed, keeping your room cool, and getting at least seven hours of sleep each night.
5. Check your triglycerides regularly
Even if your cholesterol levels are normal, your doctor should be checking your triglycerides as part of your cholesterol panel. Those who are more likely to have high triglycerides, should limit their consumption of carbs and avoid artificial sweeteners, fructose corn syrup, and honey. Doctors recommend taking CoQ10, niacin, and high-quality omega-3 fatty acids.
6. Consume magnesium-rich foods
According to several studies, a diet that’s rich in magnesium can help control cholesterol levels. Magnesium acts as a natural calcium-blocker and might improve cardiovascular health. Those who lack this mineral can develop angina, heart arrhythmia, and even heart attacks over time.
7. Limit your sugar intake
It’s known that eating too much sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But did you know that it can actually raise your cholesterol levels? Those who are prone to high cholesterol should avoid white, starchy carbs, and processed sugars. This will help you manage both cholesterol and weight.
8. Choose the right statin
If you have cholesterol problems, you’re probably familiar with statins. There are seven statins, and each one is different. If you’re not taking statins currently, ask your doctor about switching. Keep in mind that they can’t help you fix a statin-related problem unless you speak up. Statins vary in effectiveness and side effects.
Possible side effects of statins include fuzzy thinking, muscle pain, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Although they’re helpful, drug-free methods to lower cholesterol may also work.