Having high cholesterol increases your chances of experiencing a heart attack significantly. There are two types of cholesterol – the good and the bad. “Good” cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol, keeps your arteries clear of the “bad” cholesterol, also known as LDL cholesterol. With some simple lifestyle changes, you can easily reduce your LDL levels while increasing your HDL levels, and gain long-term health benefits as well.
- Lose weight: You can increase your HDL just by losing 10 pounds. If you can achieve a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or lower, you’ll have made considerable improvement to your HDL levels.
- Quit smoking and cut back on alcohol: Your HDL may jump as high as 4 points just by quitting smoking, and limiting your alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two per day for men can increase it by another 4 points.
- Exercise regularly: Increase your HDL levels by sticking to a regular routine of 20-30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise.
- Watch what you eat: Try to eliminate saturated fats and trans fats. Avoid processed foods and focus on unsaturated fats such as olive oil or flaxseed oil. Simple carbohydrates like cakes and cookies should be avoided completely and replaced with a good source of fiber, like fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, like fish.
- Take your vitamins and supplements: Niacin, fibrates, and statins all play an important role in boosting your HDL levels.
Although it may take time to lose weight, starting to make lifestyle changes can help you lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol even before you reach an ideal weight.