7 Tips for Combating High Cholesterol

When it comes to your all-important cardiovascular health, your cholesterol levels play an integral role in whether your heart and blood vessels are functioning under optimal conditions. When these numbers stray too far outside of ideal levels, the results can be life-threatening, which is why any steps you can take to regulate your cholesterol are steps well worth taking.

At the Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, Dr. Rajiv Agarwal and our team believe that education is one of the most important keys to leading a long and healthy life, which is why we want to take this opportunity to discuss high cholesterol.

With that in mind, if we’ve discovered that your cholesterol numbers are too high, or you simply want to take preventive steps to avoid high cholesterol, here are seven tips that will keep your cardiovascular system running smoothly.

1. Reduce those animal fats

One of the primary culprits behind high cholesterol levels is a diet full of animal fats — think red meat, chicken skin, and processed meats like salami. One of the best things you can do to lower your low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and triglycerides is to cut back on fatty animal products, which also includes dairy products like whole milk and cheese.

2. Keep it moving

Since high cholesterol can cause blockages in your blood vessels, a great way to combat this is to give your cardiovascular system a literal workout through exercise. In addition to improving your circulation, exercise also helps increase your levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), which work to regulate your LDLs. To get started, we recommend that you get at least three hours of aerobic exercise each week, such as a brisk walk, which you can divide into five 30-minute sessions.

3. Quit smoking

Another great way to improve your cardiovascular health and raise your HDLs is to quit using tobacco and nicotine products. Whether you smoke, chew, or vape, these habits are extremely harmful to your cardiovascular health. To give you a little motivation, consider this: A year after you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.

4. Increase your fiber

When you eat foods that are rich in fiber, your digestive tract needs more bile from your liver to process the food. Bile is made from cholesterol, so when your body needs more bile, it collects cholesterol from your bloodstream, reducing your numbers.

Foods that are rich in fiber include beans, whole grains, and citrus fruits, to name just a few.

5. Count on antioxidants

Your body relies on antioxidants to prevent plaque from building up in your blood vessels. Great sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables, which you should indulge in at least four times a day. To give you an idea of how effective this diet tweak can be, a study showed that those who ate four servings of fruit and vegetables a day had 6% lower LDL levels than those who had just two.

6. Lose weight

If you’re carrying extra weight, you can do your cardiovascular health a world of good by losing those extra pounds, which leads to lower LDL numbers. In many cases, losing just 5-10% of your overall body weight can make a big difference. The good news here is that losing weight will be a byproduct of following the tips we’ve already outlined above.

7. Get help

This last tip is very important. High cholesterol is a tricky condition because there are no outward symptoms of the problem as it develops. The best way to monitor your cholesterol levels is to see us regularly so we can test you. If we find that you have high cholesterol, we get you started on a treatment plan to get those numbers down, all the while closely monitoring your heart health.

If you’d like to learn more about the effects of high cholesterol and how to regulate your numbers, please contact our office in Humble, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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