High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease — the number one killer of Americans. Although there are medications available to help lower bad cholesterol, many Americans still don’t have desirable levels. And because there are no symptoms, you won’t know if yours are good unless you get it checked regularly by your primary care physician.
If your numbers aren’t ideal (total cholesterol less than 200mg/dL, LDL “bad” cholesterol less than 100mg/dL, and HDL “good” cholesterol greater than 60mg/dL), there are some things you can do to significantly improve it:
- Know which foods to eat. Studies have shown that some healthy foods can improve cholesterol levels, such as those with healthy fats like avocado, fatty fish, and nuts. Focus on foods high in soluble fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans. This type of fiber can lower your total cholesterol. Consider also consuming whey protein, which has been shown to lower total cholesterol.
- Get rid of bad fats. Avoid trans fats completely: these fats found in processed foods will not only raise your total cholesterol, but they will lower your good cholesterol. Also minimize saturated fats, such as those in fatty meats and butter.
- Get moving. You don’t have to join a gym, but regular walking, biking, and other activities can improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, and more. Try parking farther away from your destination and walking a few blocks. Walk during your lunch break. Just three 10-minute walking sessions a day can do wonders for your health.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking lowers your good cholesterol and raises your bad cholesterol. Even exposure to secondhand smoke raises your risk of heart disease and damages your blood vessels. It’s never too late to quit. Ask your physician for help or get free resources to help you online.
- Take steps toward losing weight. Try not to overwhelm yourself if you have more than a few pounds to lose. Instead, look at the positive: losing just a few pounds can have health benefits and improves your cholesterol and heart disease risk. Cut back on fast food and high-calorie foods. Remember, small changes can add up.
Some people find that even with a healthy lifestyle, they may still need additional help with cholesterol-lowering medications. See your physician regularly to make sure you’re doing everything you can to meet your cholesterol goals. With lifestyle changes and the care of your doctor, you can significantly lower your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other heart problems.
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Your primary care physician can help you manage your healthcare, and answer any questions you have about your health. Your PCP will help you navigate your well visits and specialist care throughout your life, and will be your health care advocate. To find a skilled primary care physician at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.