This blog post uses information from a WebMd article. To read the WebMD piece in its entirety, please click here.
September is Cholesterol Awareness Month, and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is an essential ingredient to maintaining a healthy heart. You know that much already, but what can you specifically do to reduce your cholesterol level? Here are 5 suggestions.
1. Benchmark it!
If you don’t have a gameplan, it doesn’t matter whether you say “I’m going to lower my cholesterol” or scream “I’M GOING TO LOWER MY CHOLESTEROL!” Without a precise goal in mind, you’re much more likely to come up short.
Give yourself a number to shoot for. Having that target will make your quest easier to visualize and attain.
2. Know your history
If you have obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, a smoking habit or a family history of heart disease to worry about, this can have a huge effect on your target number.
If you have none of the aforementioned risk factors, doctors are generally comfortable with a target LDL of less than 160. If your risk is moderate, you’ll likely want to keep the target LDL figure under 130. If you have a high risk, the target LDL can be slashed all the way to 70 or less.
Moral of the story: Ask your doctor what your target LDL number should be. Do NOT take a shot in the dark and guess one on your own.
3. Step Up!
To really start slashing the cholesterol level, make physical activity a daily ritual. How much do you need? Check out our popular Ask the Cardiologist post, All About Exercise, for the answer!
4. Eat More Fiber
This includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These are good sources of not only dietary fiber, but antioxidants as well.
If you want a bigger challenge, start getting accustomed to soluble fibers. It soaks up cholesterol in your body like a sponge. Dried beans, oats and barley are excellent soluble fiber sources.
We’ve written about this in the past, but it’s worth mentioning again: fish and fish oil are spilling over with cholesterol-slicing omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is a standout, but even canned tuna offers some wonderful benefits.
Ideally, it’s a good idea to eat fish two or even three times every week. Not only will you be stocking up on omega-3, but that’s also two or three times every week that you aren’t eating red meat. For your heart, that’s a win-win!
If you would like learn more about how to maintain a healthy heart, or to talk with a physician about your potential heart risk factors, visit Sherman’s Heart and Vascular Center.