5 things you can do now to have a healthy cholesterol level

High cholesterol is defined as having an excess of cholesterol in your blood. Over 200mg/dl is consider high cholesterol. There are many large studies that have shown a correlation between high cholesterol and increased risk of heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol is usually found in blood lab values on an annual check-up. Often there are no signs or symptoms present even with life threatening levels of atherosclerotic build up. We can point to many cases in the news of people who have been symptom free suddenly suffering a massive heart attack. It's often the first indication of disease. Because of this, yearly cholesterol screening are highly recommended.

The best approach for prevention (and even reversal) of high cholesterol is dietary and lifestyle changes.

Fresh veggies and fruits piled up together
  1. Increase fiber in your diet. The basic recommendation for daily fiber intake is 25 grams. The average American eats about half that, sometimes less.

    • This can be done through increasing your daily servings of high fiber foods such as oats, nuts, seeds, beans, whole wheat bread, eating the skins of fruits.

    • A daily fiber supplement such as Heather's Tummy fiber.

    • Increase your intake of vegetables. Fruits are good too and provide many healthful benefits, but I find that they are easy to incorporate, so I tell my patients to focus on the vegetables.

    • Kale or other leafy greens added to soups or salads, cabbage (thin slices of purple cabbage in a salad), cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, or Brussel sprouts, are just a few other ideas.

    • If you plan on increasing fruits as well, I advise my patients to increase berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)

  2. Decrease or avoid alcohol consumption. Because the body processes alcohol as a carbohydrate and high carbohydrate consumption increases the risk of high cholesterol this is a very important factor to control.

  3. Start or increase physical exercise that brings up your heart rate during the exercise. If you're groaning as you read this you're in good company because I groan about it as well.

    • Our goal is to get 150 minutes of elevated heart rate from exercise per week. I say elevated heart rate exercise because I don't want you to only think running or biking or hours on end in a gym on the treadmill. If you have a favorite exercise that gets your heart rate up and gets you sweating then I'm on board with you doing that.

  4. The last one is we have to cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates.

    • Refined carbohydrates are the pasta, donuts, white bread, french fries, pancakes, crackers, cookies, cereal, you get the idea. If you can cut back to one serving a day of these that's great! If you can cut back to 2-3 servings TOTAL PER WEEK, that's even better!

I recommend starting out slow, if you just want to make one change as a time that's great! If you want more specific recommendations or want to see where your cholesterol is at make an appointment with Dr. Mayatte