If you’ve been told you have high cholesterol, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 10% of American adults have been diagnosed with this condition, and many more may be living with dangerous cholesterol levels without knowing it.
At Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah, our board-certified physicians offer comprehensive primary care services, including the diagnosis and management of problematic cholesterol. One question we’re often asked is if there’s a way to lower cholesterol without medication.
The good news? There are ways to maintain and even lower cholesterol levels naturally. Keep reading as we dive in and take a closer look.
Cholesterol, in its most basic form, is a waxy substance present in our bloodstream and cells. It’s necessary for producing hormones, vitamin D, and other vital substances.
However, too much of anything isn’t good, and that applies to cholesterol. When people talk about “cholesterol levels,” they're usually talking about the two types found in our blood: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
LDL, often termed “bad cholesterol,” can build up on the walls of arteries, making them hard and narrow. On the other hand, HDL, the “good cholesterol,” helps remove LDL, guarding against heart disease. If people say they have high cholesterol, they usually mean higher-than-healthy LDL levels.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol doesn’t usually present any obvious symptoms. This makes periodic blood checks with your Wasatch Peak Family Practice provider crucial. You might feel perfectly healthy, but a blood test could reveal otherwise.
Lower your cholesterol naturally
If you have high cholesterol, it’s best to talk to your provider for personalized advice. In the meantime, here are some ways you can lower your cholesterol without resorting to medications:
1. Rethink what’s on your plate
The food you consume plays a key role in determining your cholesterol levels. Prioritizing foods rich in soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial. Think oatmeal, colorful fruits and veggies, dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous veggies, and healthy, plant-based fats found in nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Avoiding saturated and trans fats is equally important. These are found mostly in fried foods, cakes, pies, and certain margarines. Next time you’re at the grocery store, opt for baked chips instead of fried and choose whole grain over white bread. These small choices can have a significant impact.
2. Make physical activity a routine part of your day
When it comes to your health, you’ve probably heard over and over that exercise is important. This is because regular physical activity can raise HDL cholesterol while lowering “bad” LDL.
It's not always about heavy lifting or running marathons. Even activities as simple as brisk walking, gardening, or dancing can make a difference. The key is to choose activities you enjoy and make them part of your daily routine.
3. Limit alcohol, and quit tobacco use
A glass of red wine might have limited heart benefits, but when you drink alcohol, it’s broken down in the liver into triglycerides and cholesterol. As such, alcohol raises your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. For this reason, moderation is key when it comes to drinking — especially if you have high cholesterol.
Similarly, if you smoke, consider that quitting can improve your HDL cholesterol levels. And the benefits don't stop there. After only 20 minutes of quitting, there’s a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure. By quitting tobacco use, you can improve your cholesterol and overall heart health.
4. Think of your weight as more than number
Shedding those extra pounds doesn’t only make you feel and look good — it significantly benefits your cholesterol levels. This is because weighing more than you should raises your odds of having too much LDL in your bloodstream.
Remember, it’s not always about drastic measures. Small steps, like opting for the stairs over the elevator or including more veggies in your meals, can lead to big leaps in your health journey.
How your primary care provider can help
Even if you integrate healthy lifestyle changes, there might be instances when they aren’t enough to significantly lower your cholesterol. At Wasatch Peak Family Practice, your primary care provider can offer personalized guidance tailored to your needs.
Whether it’s suggesting more specific dietary changes, recommending particular exercises, or offering cholesterol-lowering medications, your provider assesses your overall health history to guide you on the next steps toward reclaiming your health.
For personalized help lowering your cholesterol, book an appointment online or over the phone today with Wasatch Peak Family Practice.