LDL cholesterol, or commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is a major risk factor for heart disease. This because it can build up in the walls of the arteries and form plaque, which can narrow and reduce the flow of blood to vital areas of the body. This plaque buildup can lead to the hardening of the arteries known as atherosclerosis. Overtime, high LDL levels can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
A healthy or normal LDL cholesterol level is under 100 mg/dL. An LDL level of between 100 and 128 mg/dL is above optimal. High LDL level is above 160 mg/dL. If you’re at this level, you should lower your LDL cholesterol levels to prevent heart disease and other complications. If you want to reduce high LDL cholesterol levels, here are some simple ways to get you started.
1. Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) strongly recommends following a heart-healthy eating plan which include the following:
- It is low in saturated and trans fat. This means limiting fats that are solid at room temperature such as butter, margarines, and limit consumption of fast food, red meat, cheese, and whole milk.
- It is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, cereals, dried beans, pasta and peas.
- It contains heart-healthy fats, such as olive canola, corn, and sunflower oils; trans-fat–free tub vegetable oil spread; nuts and seeds; and omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseed.
- It contains no more than 2400 mg of sodium daily. Canned or processed foods, such as canned soups, frozen meals, and fast foods, tend to be high in sodium. Eating less of such foods and seeking out low-sodium (containing no more than 140 mg sodium per serving) or “no salt added” varieties of them can help you cut back on your sodium intake.
2. Be physical active
Being physically inactive is a biggest risk factor for high blood cholesterol and heart disease. Regular exercise can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Exerts recommended at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
3. Maintain a normal weight
Obesity is another major risk factor for high cholesterol. Research has shown that losing even 5% to 10% of your body weight can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels. A combination of diet and exercise will be the most efficient way to achieve this.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking has been shown to decrease good cholesterol levels. Prolonged smoking also damages your arteries, which puts you at greater risk for plaque that can clog your arteries.
Smoking is a leading contributor to heart disease, cancer, and other serious diseases. It also negatively affects those around you. It’s never too late to quit smoking. In fact, as soon as you stop smoking, your body begin to repair itself. And after just twenty minutes, your heart rate drops and circulation will improve. Check out these tips to help you quit smoking.
5. Drink alcohol in moderation
Excessive alcohol intake has long been known to increase triglyceride levels. Elevated triglyceride levels can contribute to the hardening of the arteries, which leads to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Drinking too much of alcoholic drinks also increase the risk of high blood pressure. That’s why it is important to do so in moderation, which means only one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.