We love February! February 14 is Valentine’s Day. And really the whole month is about celebrating love, making it no surprise that February is Heart Health Month. A key factor in your heart’s health is cholesterol. In fact, when you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, it can lead to heart disease. But there is some good news – you have the ability to help control and even lower your cholesterol levels. So in honor of Heart Health Month, we’ve put together this list of tips to help you better manage your cholesterol and keep your heart healthy.

You are what you eat.

Lowering your cholesterol starts with the foods you eat. First things first – get rid of trans fats from your diet. This can be tough, as you’ll find them in baked goods like pies, cakes and even frozen pizza. You also have to read your labels. Anything that lists partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient has trans fat in it. Of course, there are also foods you can eat that help lower cholesterol naturally. Try swapping olive oil for butter and adding spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, coriander and cinnamon to your dishes to help lower cholesterol. Eating more fish and less red meat (high in saturated fat) can also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Other foods that naturally lower cholesterol include nuts, oats, red wine, tea, beans and dark chocolate!

Break a sweat.

Increasing your physical activity by exercising on most days of the week can help lower cholesterol. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day can be good for your heart and your cholesterol. You can even do 10 minutes of exercise at several intervals over the course of the day – as long as they add up to 30 minutes or more to get all the heart healthy benefits of daily exercise. You might even consider getting together with a friend to get your exercise in. It’s also important to choose a physical activity that you enjoy so you stick with it for the long haul. In addition, more exercise can help you lose weight – and it doesn’t take much weight loss to lower your cholesterol. Dropping just 10 pounds can cut your bad cholesterol by eight percent!

Quit smoking.

Most people know that smoking isn’t good for them. That being said, it’s not good for your cholesterol in particular. Smoking can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL). In fact, those who quit smoking for one year saw a five percent increase in their good cholesterol. And that’s not all. One year after you quit smoking your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker and after 15 years, your risk is like someone who never smoked at all.

Take a chill.

Taking some time out of your hectic schedules can aid in lowering cholesterol. Stress actually contributes to higher cholesterol. So what do you? Try yoga or meditation. Try reading a great book or meeting a friend for lunch or a movie. Go and get a massage or lose yourself in some funny cat videos. Anything that gets you away from the source of your stress – even if just for a little while – can help improve your cholesterol levels.

Keeping your cholesterol on the lower side is sure to help reduce your risk of heart disease. And while some of these tips may not be as easy to accomplish for some people, they’re worth giving a try. For you and for all of the people you love. And not just for Heart Health Month, but for every month. If you’d like more ideas on how you can better deal with cholesterol and keep your heart healthy, please don’t hesitate to contact us.





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