For those of us interested in lowering cholesterol to the recommended level, having a healthy and varied diet and replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats* are key. But it is also possible to complement these changes with cholesterol-lowering compounds, like plant sterols** or beta-glucans*** – it’s another way to help your efforts along. There are two ways people generally like to try this: with cholesterol-lowering supplements, or by enjoying foods containing beta-glucan or added plant sterols as part of their healthy diet.
If this sounds eerily familiar (or if you’d like to know what the plan would be if your levels snuck over the recommended limit), here’s a quick guide to cholesterol treatment to help you out.
What’s the usual treatment for cholesterol levels that are too high?
Your best source of advice on how to treat cholesterol is always going to be a medical professional, who can help you make a personal plan for tackling it and the other risk factors for heart disease.
That said, there are standard ways to manage cholesterol that apply to most of us – so here’s a round-up of things that can help.
NB: Remember, cholesterol levels go up and down over time, so cholesterol treatment is an ongoing process of management: there’s no permanent ‘cure’.
Managing or treating high cholesterol through diet
If you’re trying to manage your cholesterol levels, one of the best things to do is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. You might also consider:
Managing or treating high cholesterol through lifestyle changes
Plenty of us know the guilt that comes with an untouched gym membership card sitting in a purse or wallet. “Use me,” it whispers … but is exercise a legitimate cholesterol treatment? What other lifestyle changes could you consider? Well:
- People who are a healthy weight are less likely to have raised cholesterol levels. If your BMI is higher than it should be, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise could help you bring it down, and therefore contribute to lower your cholesterol levels as well. When it comes to physical activity, remember that you don’t have to be wedded to the gym – it’s important you find something you enjoy!
- It’s (always) a good time to quit smoking. Just like high cholesterol, smoking is a risk factor for heart disease, so it’s a good idea to stop now. Get help here.
- Take time to relax. Stress doesn’t increase cholesterol levels, but it’s easier to make healthy choices when you’re relaxed and happy!
Managing or treating high cholesterol with medication
A healthcare professional can tell you if they think that cholesterol-lowering medications are a good idea for you. The main options prescribed for elevated cholesterol levels are called statins, a collection of medicines that help lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol.
The important thing to remember is that even if you’re taking cholesterol medication, it’s still a good idea to make the healthy diet and lifestyle changes above, as they can have additional benefits.
Want to know more about treating high cholesterol? For extra details and support, try downloading our free Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit. It’s full of need-to-know information for anyone with heart health on their mind.
* Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet can help maintain normal cholesterol levels.
*** Beta-glucan has been shown to lower blood cholesterol.