We have all seen the advertisements that feature food items being heart healthy and claims that their products can lower your cholesterol, but how valid and needed are these products to lowering your cholesterol? You may also be wondering if there are other ways you can reduce the negative impact of cholesterol in your life. Our Integrity Urgent Care team is interested in your health and helping you take steps every day to improve it. There are a number of steps you can take to lower your cholesterol today.
1. Healthy Foods – There are dozens of foods you can increase in your diet, with or without special advertising. The biggest is actually limiting a certain type of food – those with saturated fats should be decreased and those with trans fats should be eliminated altogether. From there, increase your fiber like oatmeal, kidney beans, apples, and omega-3 fatty acid foods like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
2. Exercise – Physical activity in general is good for your health and there are so many ways to accomplish this. Swimming, rowing, running, biking, dance classes, joining a team sport, the list could continue for some time. Choose one to try and sign up for a few lessons at a local club or gym. Find friends to join you for accountability or fun. If your schedule is limited, try to walk at a vigorous pace for 20 minutes. That pace will look different for everyone but should get your heart pumping.
3. Stop Smoking – Smoking has a number of bad effects on your body, but even if you have smoked for years, the improvements that can be made immediately are notable. The Mayo Clinic sites that within a year of quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease is reduced to half from that of someone who is still smoking.
4. Lose Weight – By eating healthy and exercising like the first two tips, this one should come naturally. That said, losing weight doesn’t come automatically and consistency is the key. You are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your entire life so don’t be afraid your healthful steps aren’t working if it takes weeks or months to see any progress. The more you have to lose, the longer it will take, but every little bit helps.
5. Moderation – For those who partake in alcohol, moderation is the key for many reasons. Not only is it important so you can avoid drinking to excess, but there is some research that shows a link between “too much alcohol [and] serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes” according to the Mayo Clinic. Their recommendation is no more than one drink a day for women of any age and men over the age of 65 and two drinks per day for men under the age of 65.
6. Reduce Stress – Thankfully, many of the above steps will help you in reducing the stress, both physically and mentally on your body. In addition, you may consider yoga, meditation, relaxation practices, or finding a calming hobby. For those who may want to increase their activity level too, many apps and health programs have mindful exercises where you can combine reflection through coached running, walking, or other activity.
If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels, come see our medical team today. We can run a few tests and take some data that will help give you a better idea of where you are at. And if your schedule limits you, while you wait for your next available time, go ahead and start on these tips to improve your health right away. Every one of these will help you in more ways than just reducing your cholesterol and will make you a healthier person day by day.