Tuesday, January 22, 2019 9:24

Best Tips To Keep Your Cholesterol in Check

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Posted by on Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 5:00
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The word “cholesterol” comes with a lot of baggage. For decades it has been known that high cholesterol levels lead to clogged arteries and increase the risks of heart attack and stroke. Heart disease is the top killer of both men and women, so every adult should be knowledgeable about their cholesterol levels.

Best Tips To Keep Your Cholesterol in Check
Best Tips To Keep Your Cholesterol in Check

Some people aren’t aware that a specific type of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, is actually beneficial, clearing bad cholesterol from our arteries. When it comes to HDL cholesterol, higher numbers are actually better.

But too much total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is dangerous and results in the build-up of deposits inside the arteries. Like a pipe with gunk built up on the inside, arteries can eventually become blocked. Blockage of arteries leading to the heart can result in a heart attack, while blockages in arteries leading to the brain can result in stroke.

Fortunately, there is a lot that the average person can do to get their cholesterol levels where they need to be. The best treatments for high cholesterol involve simple lifestyle changes and don’t require expensive drugs. Here are several ways you can get your cholesterol levels under control.

1. Get a cholesterol test. More than 100 million Americans have high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Many of them don’t know it, because high cholesterol by itself doesn’t cause symptoms. But you can have your cholesterol levels tested with a simple blood test that will tell you your total cholesterol levels, HDL and LDL levels, and your level of triglycerides, which are another type of circulating fat. The average, otherwise-healthy adult over age 20 should have their cholesterol tested every 5 years.

2. Understand what your test results mean. Your cholesterol “numbers” are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Total cholesterol should be under 200. Total cholesterol from 200 to 240 mg/dL is considered borderline high, while levels over 240 mg/dL are considered high. HDL levels should be 45 or higher, and LDL levels should be 130 or lower. What your particular levels should be will depend to some extent upon your age, sex, and medical history, and your physician can go into more detail about what your numbers mean for you.

3. Eat better. Reduce high cholesterol foods like red meat, eggs, and whole milk, and try to get no more than 30% of your daily calories from fats. When it comes to fats, saturated fats are the most dangerous, and they come from animal and dairy products. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are healthier. Cooking foods with olive oil, canola oil, or other vegetable oil is healthier than using butter or lard. Adding more fiber, fish, fruits, and vegetables to your diet can make a big difference to your cholesterol levels over time.

4. Quit smoking, lose excess weight, and move more. Smoking causes changes in your arteries that make the buildup of plaques more likely, and it causes numerous other health problems, so quitting smoking is one of the healthiest things you can do. Excess weight is also associated with health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Moderate exercise for 30 minutes, at least 3 times per week can work wonders to improve circulation and help you shed extra pounds, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

If making lifestyle changes doesn’t make enough of a positive difference in your cholesterol levels, your physician may prescribe medications to help.

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