5 Tips for Keeping Your Cholesterol In Check

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your liver produces to help protect nerves, make cell tissues, and produce certain hormones. In addition to your body’s natural production of cholesterol, you get it from the food you eat. But if your body gets more cholesterol than it needs (and the wrong type of cholesterol), your health can suffer.

High cholesterol is a widespread condition, affecting more than 70 million Americans. Unfortunately, high cholesterol often has no symptoms, which is probably one reason only a third of Americans with high cholesterol levels have the condition in check. Although it has no symptoms, high cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Good versus bad cholesterol

You’ve probably heard about good cholesterol, which is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and bad cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Having high HDL levels is a good thing because HDL helps rid your body of LDL, which is the unhealthier kind of cholesterol.

Combined, your cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL. The only way to know your cholesterol level is through regular tests at your doctor’s office. At Danvers Family Doctors, we can test your cholesterol levels and help you manage your health if your levels are too high.

How to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level

You can’t change some risks factors for cholesterol such as your family history or your age. But fortunately, there are ways to prevent high cholesterol and reduce your cholesterol levels if they are too high. At Danvers Family Doctors, we put together this list of five tips for helping you keep your cholesterol in check.

Exercise

Exercise not only raises your good cholesterol levels, but it can help you achieve other goals such as losing weight, which also helps keep your cholesterol at a healthy number. Even if you’re not overweight, getting your heart rate going can help lower your cholesterol, your blood pressure, and the number on your scale.

The Surgeon General recommends getting at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week. Aim for getting physical most days of the week to keep your cholesterol in check.

Lose weight

Even losing a small amount of weight helps lower your cholesterol level. Small changes add up. Swap out water for sugary beverages and fruit for cookies and desserts. Combining this tip with the next tip of watching what you what you eat will speed up your weight loss and get you to a healthy cholesterol level faster.

Watch what you eat

Watching what you eat so you can get to or maintain a healthy weight will improve your overall health. But eating certain foods and skipping others will specifically help your cholesterol levels.

Start by eliminating or reducing your use of saturated fats, commonly found in red meat and full-fat dairy products. Then increase your consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, nuts, and vegetable oils.

Foods to avoid include those with trans fats such as margarine and processed store-bought muffins and cakes, egg yolks, and bacon. Foods to stock up on include:

Quit smoking

If you’re one of the 34 million Americans who still smoke, start a quit-smoking plan as soon as possible. In addition to raising your cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease, smoking increases your risk for certain cancers, diabetes, and lung diseases. Quitting can improve your health within hours.

Take medications, if you need them

For some people, lifestyle changes won’t do the trick, so medication such as statins help get your cholesterol under control. Ask your doctor if medications are right for you.

For more information on how to manage your cholesterol levels, call us today at Danvers Family Doctors in Danvers, Massachusetts.

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