“Cholesterol levels are a crucial factor we can influence through lifestyle measures and, if needed, lipid lowering therapies," said Dr. Navid Ahmed, Catholic Health Physician Partners. "Close regular follow up with your cardiologist to optimize your cholesterol levels through a comprehensive preventative approach can lower your cardiovascular risk and possibly be lifesaving.”
What is cholesterol?
Approximately 14 percent of Americans have high cholesterol. Age and family history play a part in determining if you are at risk of developing high cholesterol. Keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range helps you avoid cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver. Your body needs it to build cells, make vitamins and secrete hormones. If you eat foods that also contain high amounts of cholesterol then you may have more than you need.
Too much cholesterol causes thick, hard deposits on the walls of your arteries. The buildup narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
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Tips to Maintain Low Cholesterol Levels
There are simple ways to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tip 1: Eat a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet is crucial to maintaining good cholesterol levels. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber and whey protein will help lower your overall cholesterol. Avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats like fried foods, full-fat dairy products, processed meats and red meats. Instead, opt for 1 percent or 2 percent milk products, 90 percent lean ground beef and lean cuts of meat like sirloin or tenderloin.
Tip 2: Be Physically Active
Exercise and physical activity can improve cholesterol levels. Moderate physical activity increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your blood. This is the "good" cholesterol your body needs to be healthy.
Adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-to-intense exercise every week. Even short intervals of physical activity over the course of a day can help you lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health and lower your cholesterol levels.
Tip 3: Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight contributes to high cholesterol levels and puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases. A balanced diet and exercising frequently will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Tip 4: Do Not Smoke
Smoking contributes to high cholesterol levels along with cardiovascular diseases and a variety of other health conditions.
Quitting smoking improves HDL cholesterol levels and promotes an overall healthy life. The benefits of quitting smoking to your cardiovascular health are quickly evident:
- Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike.
- Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve.
- Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
Tip 5: Limit Alcohol
Moderate-to-excessive alcohol consumption contributes to high cholesterol levels and other health conditions. If you consume alcohol, it is important to do so in moderation.