What are the factors that increase my risk of high cholesterol and heart disease?
- Being of South Asian Ancestry
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Inactive lifestyle
- Family history of heart disease
- Family history of high cholesterol (immediate family only)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+
- Tobacco usage
- A diet high in full-fat dairy products, saturated fats, and red meat
As always, remember that genetics may load the gun, but diet and behavior pull the trigger (so to speak).
Now it’s time to get into the actionable items: How to lower your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease, naturally. You can significantly lower your LDL and raise your HDL levels with some relatively simple – but consistent – changes.
The Importance of Exercise
Before we get into dietary recommendations, one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental well-being is regular exercise.
Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, reduces body fat levels, improves heart health and function, fights inflammation, and helps improve glucose tolerance. It also has the added effect of significantly reducing both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as maintaining arterial flexibility (7,8).
When you exercise, cholesterol is actually forced to move around the body with increased blood flow. This prevents cholesterol from sticking to vessel walls and removes existing cholesterol that has built up. The cholesterol is then filtered through the liver into your body’s waste.
For best results, engage in 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. Try to vary your exercise with weight training, running, jogging, swimming, dancing, aerobics, and/or group classes.