Last updated: June 27, 2019.
Have you ever had your cholesterol levels checked? This week we are looking at how to get off cholesterol medication for those who are on
them by changing lifestyles.
If you have high cholesterol levels, you need to know that it may be a sign that you are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Too low cholesterol can be more dangerous than too high cholesterol.
Cholesterol levels are used to predict your heart health. Healthy adults should have cholesterol levels below 5 mmol/L. Any point higher can be a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol is a type of blood fat (blood lipid). It is carried in the blood by proteins called lipoproteins and it is these that are measured when you have a cholesterol test.
High cholesterol increases your risk of having heart attacks. Medication can improve your cholesterol but lifestyle changes can help you be off the medication or improve the medication lowering effect.
• First, eat heart-healthy foods. Even if you have been eating unhealthy foods for years, making a few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health. Choose healthier fats; avoid saturated fats that are found primarily in red meat and dairy products, raise your cholesterol.
Choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and use fats found in olive and canola oils for healthier options. Eliminate trans fats from your diet these are found in fried foods and many commercial products, such as cookies, crackers, and snack cakes.
Even small amounts of trans fat can add up if you eat foods that contain small amounts of trans fat. Read the ingredient list, and avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils. Eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Some types of fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds. Increase soluble fiber in your diet by eating oats and oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils, and vegetables.
• Secondly, exercise on most days of the week and increase your physical activity as this can improve your cholesterol. With your doctor’s agreement, exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Just be sure that you can keep up the changes you decide to make. Start taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour, consider riding your bike to work, do some swimming laps and play your favorite sport.
To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group. And remember, any activity is helpful. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a few situps while watching television can make a difference.
• Thirdly, quit smoking, If you smoke, stop. Quitting might improve your cholesterol level. And the benefits don’t end there. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked.
• Fourthly, lose weight; carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your weight can improve cholesterol levels. Start by evaluating your eating habits and daily routine. Small changes add up.
If you eat when you’re bored or frustrated, take a walk instead. If you pick up fast food for lunch every day, pack something healthier from home. For snacks, munch on a carrot or air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips.
Don’t eat mindlessly.And 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.
• Fifthly, 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 stroke.