One in every five Americans has high cholesterol, making them at risk for heart disease. Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is responsible for 29% of all American deaths.
Luckily there are actions you can take to lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Here are a few simple steps that could add years to your life:
Know Your Number
Unlike other conditions, high cholesterol has no noticeable symptoms. In fact, many people surprised to learn they have high cholesterol. It is imperative to empower yourself and learn your cholesterol level. Knowing you have high cholesterol is the first step to doing something about it.
Change Your Diet
One thing you can do to lower your cholesterol is cut back on foods high in cholesterol and total fat, especially saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats (found in meat and full-fat dairy products) raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats (found in margarine, store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes) are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. They raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or your bad cholesterol, and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL), your good cholesterol.
What to Eat
A heart-healthy diet isn’t just about what you shouldn’t eat. It also means eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean meats and poultry and fat-free or 1 percent fat dairy products.
Listed below are several foods that have proven to reduce your cholesterol:
- Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which is known to significantly reduce your bad cholesterol.
- Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and lower blood cholesterol and help keep blood vessels healthy and elastic.
- Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, an excellent way to lower triglyceride levels.
- Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol while leaving your good (HDL) cholesterol unchanged.
If you are a smoker, cholesterol shouldn’t be your only worry. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of a long list of diseases, heart disease among them. It increases blood pressure, decreases your ability to exercise and increases blood clotting. If you use tobacco or nicotine in any form, quitting should be your top priority.
Physical activity is a great way to lower cholesterol. Make time in your schedule for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Exercise helps control factors that can cause heart diseases such as excess weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity also affects blood cholesterol level by increasing your good cholesterol, or HDL, which is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
If you have high cholesterol, it is important to monitor it regularly and take steps to lower it. Having high cholesterol doesn’t mean term life insurance is out of the question. Let your term life insurance broker know if you have high cholesterol and they will assist you in choosing the best life insurance company for you.