Beyond Statins: Lifestyle Changes for Better Cholesterol Management

High cholesterol levels harm human health, and people know it. Despite fixing their dietary habits and lifestyle, they always rush for statins for the rescue.

Statins are the medicines prescribed to lower cholesterol levels in the body. These are mainly given to patients at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. 

These can cause muscle pain, mental fuzziness, physical weakness, disturbed sleep, digestive problems, and low platelet count. Besides these, the rare symptoms reported are muscle weakness, tendon problems, and loss of sensation in the hands and feet (1). 

Total Cholesterol levels above 240 or higher are your body’s call to do something for yourself. When we check the lipid profile, the components found are total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), Low-Density-Lipoprotein (LDL), Very-Low-Density Lipoprotein (VLDL), and triglycerides. In the image below, you can see the interpretation of cholesterol levels.cholesterol levels

Image sourced by Penn Medicine (2)

You should know that uncontrolled cholesterol (hyperlipidemia/dyslipidemia) can cause narrowing of arteries, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and erectile dysfunction (3).

This blog has brought the 10 most effective lifestyle changes for better cholesterol management. Let’s dig into this:

  • Diminish Saturated Fats: 

Saturated fats are fats that are found to be solid at room temperature. These raise overall cholesterol levels. They are primarily present in red meat and full-fat dairy products. 

American Heart Association (AHA) says to consume 5%-6% of calories from these fats daily.

So be vigilant and monitor the consumption of whole-fat milk, yoghurt, and cream.

You can lower LDL by its least consumption.

  1. Remove Trans Fats:

Trans fats fall in the category of one of the worst foods for heart health.

These are frequently found in margarine, confectionery, crackers, and cookies. 

These are also labeled as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” So read the packaging cautiously before buying.

  • Eat Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids are the well-wishers of the heart. These have multiple advantages for the heart, and they decrease the risk of sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias. Omega-3-rich foods include walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, mackerel, and herring. 

Here are the recommended dosages (4):

  • For cardioprotective role: 1g/day.
  • To reduce triglyceride levels, 2-4g/day is needed.

Besides this, AHA suggests eating fish (omega-3 source) in the given proportion:

  • 2 servings/week is a must for a person with no history of heart disease.
  • 1 serving/week for a person with heart disease.
  • Boost Your Intake of Soluble Fiber: 

Soluble fibers combine with cholesterol, bind with cholesterol in the gut, and halt its absorption in the blood. This process helps lower total cholesterol levels. 

You can have soluble fiber through fruits, legumes, vegetables, oats, psyllium etc. 

  • Munch on nuts and seeds:

You all want to munch on something in mid-morning, evening or midnight. Nuts and cereals are the best choices for this. It would be great if you will have roasted nuts or seeds. However, you can also incorporate these in your breakfast cereals as a crunching toping. 

Also, try recipes like granola, chia seed pudding, crackers, energy bars, etc.Whey Protein

  • Include Whey Protein:

Whey protein is found in milk. It has lactoferrin, which may block LDL from oxidizing and hardening the arteries.

It is proven through trials that protein supplementation can lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.

Another study has shown that 65g of whey protein consumed daily for 12 weeks can lower LDL and total cholesterol levels (5).

  • Do Exercise:

Regular physical activity improves cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol).

Exercise not only tones your body and builds muscle mass. However, it is also the most effective technique for lowering cholesterol. 

A brisk walk, running, and strength training are beneficial. Besides, you can combine it with high-intensity workouts.

Your goal should be:

  • 150min/week moderate intensity exercise.
  • 75min/week high-intensity exercise
  • Smoking and alcohol:

Nicotine is found in cigarettes that decrease HDL levels and increases LDL and VLDL levels. Your liver breaks down alcohol and rebuilds it as triglycerides and cholesterol. Your blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol grow with increased alcohol consumption.

Many different types of cardiovascular illnesses have been linked to alcohol and tobacco usage. These negative consequences include elevated blood pressure and lipid levels. It is also a significant risk factor for stroke and congestive heart failure (6).

  • Lose weight:

A low-calorie diet or low-fat diet can help you lose weight. Losing weight and inches from the body will diminish fat stores.

Shedding some pounds can do wonders for your cholesterol levels. By reducing the fat in your body, you’ll also lower the chances of inflammation. Plus, losing weight and staying active can help reverse insulin resistance, making it easier for your body to manage hormones and lipoproteins (7).Stay Hydrated

  • Stay hydrated:

Hydration is also an important lifestyle change. It is suggested that an adult woman consumes 2.7 litres of water and men consume 3.7 litres of water daily. It is proved through clinical research that biomarkers of dehydration are associated with cardiometabolic risk. It is especially essential for older adults to monitor their water intake (8).

Concluding note:

Managing cholesterol might seem like an uphill battle, but it can be done effortlessly when you realize its negative repercussions. It can deteriorate your health exponentially. So, it is a wise move to modify your lifestyle which includes a healthy diet and physical activity. Besides this, Refrain from bad habits like smoking and alcohol consumption. These changes can ward off your worry of being sick.

If you are on statins and looking to improve your cholesterol through diet, reach out to Diet Ideas. We’re here to help you achieve your health goals!

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