5 Tips For Keeping Your Cholesterol In Check

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, which makes it the perfect month to get your cholesterol checked. It’s also the perfect time to learn what you can do to keep your cholesterol in check and make changes if it’s high. 

At Arsenio Medical, located in Lawrence, New York, our expert staff of medical doctors and clinicians are dedicated to preventing, diagnosing, and treating common medical problems for the entire family. With high cholesterol linked to numerous diseases, like coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, it’s never too early to start paying attention to this important health issue.

In honor of National Cholesterol Education Month, we’ve put together this guide to help educate you about cholesterol and give you tips on how you can keep your cholesterol in check. 

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell of your body. Your body needs cholesterol for important bodily functions, like making hormones, the substances that help you digest food, and vitamin D.  

Cholesterol is comprised of two different components, each with an important role to play. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often referred to as “good” cholesterol, works to remove fatty waste from your cells. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, bring cholesterol to your cells for important cell functions.  

Our bodies naturally make all of the cholesterol we need to function, but we also ingest it when we eat certain foods, like eggs, meat, and cheese. This increases the levels of LDL cholesterol stored in our bodies. Other foods increase the amount of HDL we need. 

When you have more LDL cholesterol than you need, it is stored as fatty deposits called plaque that stick to the walls of your blood vessels and arteries. Without enough HDL, your body can’t remove excess fatty byproducts. 

As plaque builds, it becomes difficult for blood to flow, sometimes leading to a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s important to keep both numbers in check. 

Tips for keeping your cholesterol in check

While genetics can play a role, most high cholesterol is the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. The good news is that this means you can prevent, treat, and even reverse high cholesterol by making healthy choices.

1. Eat a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

By making fruits, vegetables, and whole grains the foundation of your diet, you’ll dramatically increase your intake of soluble fiber. Along with a myriad of other health benefits, soluble fiber helps keep cholesterol in check by reducing its absorption into the bloodstream. 

Start your day with heart-healthy foods like fruit and oatmeal. Eat a salad with lunch and dinner, and make vegetables the main course with protein choices as a side. Choose whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, over white rice.  

2. Avoid saturated and trans fats 

Saturated fats, found in red meat, dairy products, and eggs, and trans fats, often used in store-bought baked goods, both raise cholesterol levels. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats help lower cholesterol. 

Instead of butter, reach for canola or olive oil. Try spreading avocado on your toast, and instead of store-bought baked goods, snack on foods with healthy fats, like cashews, almonds, and pecans. 

3. Incorporate more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Scientists have found that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits, including keeping your cholesterol in check. Found in foods like walnuts and flaxseeds, healthy omega-3 fatty acids lower your “bad” cholesterol while helping boost your “good” cholesterol.

4. Maintain a healthy weight and stay active

When you’re at a healthy weight, your body handles cholesterol more efficiently. Small changes matter! Losing even 5-10% of your body weight leads to lower cholesterol levels. 

Exercise and an active lifestyle naturally boost HDL levels. Staying active also helps keep your weight in check. Simple changes like going for a daily walk, taking the stairs, or going on a bike ride can have a big impact.

5. Get regular cholesterol screenings

It’s hard to keep your cholesterol in check if you don’t know your numbers. The experienced team at Arsenio Medical can help you get started. With a simple blood test, your lipid panel will show you your HDL and LDL numbers, letting you know which areas to work on. 

Sometimes, however, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough. Our team may recommend certain prescription medications to help lower your cholesterol as you continue to make lifestyle changes. 

Ready to learn more about your cholesterol and how you can keep it in check? Call the friendly team at Arsenio Medical or schedule online today!

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