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Lifestyle Changes and Cholesterol



Eating differently and getting a cholesterol treatment supervised by your doctor will help to lower your cholesterol. However, to stay heart healthy and lower your cholesterol in the next thirty days, you’ll need to make some changes to your lifestyle in order to reap the maximum benefits. Luckily, a few easy-to-make changes are all that you’ll need to start reaping big cholesterol-lowering benefits:

1) Exercise.  Your heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, it will get stronger with e xercise. You can protect your heart - even if you have high cholesterol - by exercising a little every day or every few days. A simple twenty minute walk can work wonders. You may also want to indulge and join a gym club to make exercise more automatic. Try to find exercises that will get your heart working without being too strenuous.

Always make sure that you speak with your doctor before starting an exercise routine (you may need to ease into a regimen if you are out of shape) and always choose an exercise that you’ll enjoy so that you can stick with it. Some people find that changing their exercise routine and trying new forms of exercise will make it easier to stay motivated. Consider walking, hiking, swimming, exercising with a video tape, yoga, horseback riding, cycling, jogging, rollerblading, ice skating, skiing, rowing, and other activities that are low-impact and heart-healthy.

2) Reduce salt.  Sodium products can cause hypertension and other conditions which are dangerous for those who already suffer from high cholesterol. Start paying attention to how much salt you add to foods and how much fat is contained in the food you eat. You’ll be amazed at how much salt is added to your food. You likely do not even notice the salt in your meals, since our taste for salt is cumulative - the more salt we eat, the more we crave and the more salt it takes for us to enjoy our food. Actually, once you have lowered your salt intake for a few months, you’ll likely notice that much of the food you used to like is much too salty!

Many food critics claim that the high sodium content in the Western diet derives from the fact that we eat so much food which is not very high quality or very tasty in itself. You can cut out the salt in your diet by choosing foods that are naturally high in flavor. You can also add flavor by adding raspberry vinegar, fresh herbs, peppercorns, and vegetable broth (sodium-reduced or homemade with no salt) to food. This same flavoring can be used instead of fat for a healthier meal. You can also find salt-free and sodium-reduced products at your grocery shop and local health food shop. They make a nice alternative to your usual high-salt products.

3) Maintain your proper body weight. Keeping your body at its ideal size will help you to control cholesterol.

4) Drink water.  Doctors agree that keeping yourself healthy by drinking lots of water is an important part of maintaining your body's function. Besides this however, drinking water will make you feel full so that you do not overeat and drinking water instead of high-salt and high-sugar drinks will keep you in better health.

5) Stop smoking.  Smoking slightly increases your cholesterol and puts an intense strain on your heart and lungs. You cannot be heart-healthy if you smoke.

6) Do not be afraid to add a glass of wine to your dinner once or twice a week. Research proves that alcohol in moderate amounts can help to lower bad cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol levels. Some research has also shown that some forms of alcohol may reduce the risks of coronary disease and may even act as antioxidants.

This doesn’t mean that you should take up drinking, however - other measures will have equally cholesterol-lowering qualities, without you having to consume alcohol. Just try not to assume that you must cut alcohol from your diet to lower cholesterol.

If you are taking cholesterol lowering or any other medications, make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the medication will react with alcohol. Also be aware that drinking more than one drink a day won’t lower your cholesterol levels and may prove more harmful than beneficial.

 7) Watch out for coffee. Some studies suggest that coffee may contribute slightly to higher levels of bad cholesterol whilst having no effects on good cholesterol levels. If you have trouble giving up coffee, at least make sure that you drink filtered coffee, as many studies have suggested that it is the coffee oils in coffee that can lead to elevated cholesterol levels. Also, do your best to cut back on coffee, and drink it with non-fat or low-fat milk products.
 Coffee - whether filtered or not - has been shown to have detrimental effects on overall health and the fat in coffee cream will certainly not help you in your goal of lowering bad cholesterol levels.

8) Start a herb garden.  Whether you grow a small herb garden in your yard or in a window box, having fresh herbs at hand can help you reduce the amount of animal fat and salt you add to your food. Fresh herbs can add plenty of flavors to your low-fat cooking and most contain a number of nutrients that are good for your overall health. Moreover, studies have shown that living in an apartment or home with live plants is good for your general health.

9) It does sound trite, but staying positive and happy with your life can also reduce stress levels (which are detrimental to your heart) and can encourage you to take the steps needed to lead a full and active life. However, changing your lifestyle and eating habits in response to high cholesterol can be emotionally draining.

Making an added effort to look after your emotional health can make this process a bit less daunting. If your emotions and moods swing wildly as you adjust to a cholesterol-lowering lifestyle and diet, seek a therapist or speak to your doctor to find help.

Now for the next step which addresses the Importance Of Working With Your Doctor For Lower Cholesterol