Your cholesterol level probably isn’t something you think twice about until you become an adult, but it’s a critically important component of your overall health and can indicate your risk of serious illnesses like heart disease and heart attack. If you have your cholesterol checked only to find that it is considerably higher than it should be, you will need to begin cholesterol management with the help of your doctor. Here are some of the basics that can help you return your cholesterol to a safe level.
While these lifestyle changes do require effort and dedication, they are not necessarily difficult. To begin, you need to choose healthier fats. Saturated fats and trans fats will raise your cholesterol level, especially the LDL level that is considered the “bad” cholesterol. Red meat, processed meats, and dairy products all contain saturated fats, so it’s best to switch to food sources that offer monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat like olive oil, avocados, almonds, and salmon. As you gradually swap fatty processed foods for choices like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, and fish, your cholesterol will decrease and you will notice that your body feels better than ever before. You may have more energy, your skin will be brighter, and other pesky health problems may even disappear.
In addition to eating healthier, you should also quit smoking, drink less, and exercise more. These guidelines are true for everybody, but will definitely directly address your cholesterol problems as well. Even just one hour of physical activity a week can provide benefits, and the more the better!
While dietary and lifestyle changes are critical to getting cholesterol under control, some people inherit genes that make it very difficult to naturally correct cholesterol. If this is the case for you, your doctor will work with you to find a medication that meets your specific needs. Statins are a popular choice because they lower LDL cholesterol and are safe for most people. Alternatives include ezetimibe, which blocks the intestine from absorbing cholesterol, and fibrates, which lower triglycerides.