High cholesterol levels have a direct effect on your heart health. This is why it is very important to manage your cholesterol levels and keep them within a healthy range. Around the world, millions of people have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. This increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Different people have different body makeup and the time taken for lowering cholesterol levels vary, depending on several variables. Looking at these variables, we take a look at just how long can it take to lower cholesterol levels.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is waxy, fat-like substance that is found naturally in the body. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream with lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are a type of soluble proteins that transport various fats throughout the body. In order to function properly, the body does require a certain amount of cholesterol, which it produces naturally. However, when we start having too much processed and refined foods, it starts to increase the levels of cholesterol in the body.
When the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol become elevated in the body, the lipoproteins start carrying the cholesterol to the body’s blood vessels and the body’s tissues. When there is too much of LDL cholesterol, it starts accumulating along the walls of the blood vessels, increasing the risk of having a stroke and heart attack.
On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the ‘good’ cholesterol. HDL takes the excess cholesterol away from your blood vessels and tissues and back to the liver. From here, the cholesterol is removed from the body. HDL also has a role to play in protecting you from cardiovascular diseases. This is why you should have a high level of HDL, and not of LDL.
How Long It Takes To Lower Cholesterol?
There are many variables that have an impact on how quickly your LDL cholesterol levels are lowered. Some of these facts include:
- Your genetic makeup
- How aggressive your treatment is?
- How high your cholesterol is?
The fact is that you don’t need to solely depend on prescription medications to lower high cholesterol levels. A right and healthy lifestyle and regular exercise can actually help you bring down your high cholesterol levels within two to three weeks.
Factors Which Help Lower Your Cholesterol
Let’s take a look at some factors that can help lower high cholesterol levels quickly.
Lifestyle Changes to Lower Your Cholesterol
One of the most important ways to lower your high cholesterol levels is to make healthy lifestyle changes. Dietary and lifestyle changes by themselves can actually help you lower your cholesterol levels by nearly 20 percent. However, every person’s genetic makeup and other factors can have a role to play in this. To begin with, doctors usually suggest to their patients to try dietary and lifestyle changes for three months in order to see what effects they have on cholesterol levels. Medication is usually only started after observing the effect of lifestyle and dietary changes on the cholesterol levels.
Dietary Changes to Lower Your Cholesterol
Dietary changes have been observed to have a profound effect in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. The increase of dietary fiber and reduction in the intake of saturated fat can lower the production of LDL cholesterol, and at the same time, also boost the production of HDL cholesterol.
Reducing saturated fat to even less than 10 g every day; and consuming at least 30 g of fiber per day can boost your chances of reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
A plant-based diet can also help lower the cholesterol levels and also improve your overall health. It is also very beneficial for heart health. There are two recommended diet plans that are known to help lower cholesterol levels. These include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. Both these diet plans focus on intake of high fiber and healthy fats.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on including:
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil and nuts over unhealthy fats, such as butter.
- Restricting the intake of salt and substituting with spices and herbs instead.
- Including plenty of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
- Consuming poultry and fish for protein and only having red meat in moderation.
Similarly, the DASH diet focuses on including:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
- Restricting the intake of salt and sugar, red meats and also processed foods.
- Plenty of lean proteins such as soy, fish, poultry and beans are included in the diet.
- Only having low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
Every person’s cholesterol levels are high due to individual reasons and fixing their diet can almost always have a huge impact on their cholesterol levels. Eliminating processed foods, refined sugars, red meats, and other unhealthy options from your diet will help you lower your cholesterol levels easily.
The Importance of Exercise in Lowering Cholesterol
Regular exercise is not just important for maintaining your overall health, but also for lowering cholesterol levels. When you lead a sedentary lifestyle with lack of exercise, it contributes further to elevating your LDL cholesterol levels and lowers your HDL levels.
Aerobic exercises help your body increase the levels of HDL, which are required by the body to protect against cardiovascular disease and many other types of chronic diseases. Exercising not only helps you lose weight, but also has many other health benefits for the body.
Even if you are not willing to exercise, physical activities such as brisk walking, dancing, bicycling, gardening, jogging, swimming, and even moderate aerobics will give benefits of exercise and help greatly in lowering your cholesterol.
Remember that changing your lifestyle to lower your cholesterol levels is not an overnight activity. Neither will it help you lower your cholesterol within a few days. You need to regularly maintain a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and some level of exercise. Genetically, some people are simply programmed to produce more cholesterol than others. For such people, changing diet and exercise might not be sufficient to lower their cholesterol levels.
If lifestyle and dietary changes don’t help, then your doctor might consider prescribing medications to help lower your cholesterol levels. Medications, such as statins have certain side effects associated with them, due to which many people do not prefer to start off taking medications for lowering their cholesterol. In such cases, focusing on diet and lifestyle combined with regular exercise becomes even more important to manage your cholesterol levels and for lowering the risk of developing many types of diseases.
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