By: Dave Warner
It’s what you eat, what kind of genes you were born with, how much you exercise, your weight, and whether you’re male or female…among other things.
They all work towards the health of your coronary artery system, and ultimately your heart.
Here are some of the highlights of our series on cholesterol and you:
- You can control about a quarter of the cholesterol by what you eat. The rest is produced by your body.
- Try to stay away from saturated fat and trans fat, they’re both bad for your LDL cholesterol levels, and can shrink the levels of the good stuff, HDL cholesterol.
- If you’re male, you are at risk years before women, because estrogen tends to protect women through about the time they reach menopause.
- Don’t fry your food. Steam it, broil it, grill it, roast it, poach it or bake it. But don’t fry it.
- Eat whole grains, oatmeal, beans, fruit, vegetables and brown rice.
- Eat less red meat, and more chicken and fish. Also, use skim milk.
- Overall, limit the calories from fat each day to about a quarter of what you eat.
- Nuts are good. They can improve your lipid profile.
- If your doctor has put you on a statin drug, make sure you get regular checkups to check your liver enzymes.
There are two sides to cholesterol, one good (HDL) and one bad (LDL). Taking the steps above can help you reduce your bad cholesterol. The American Heart Association says you can take these steps for raising your HDL levels:
- Avoid tobacco smoke.
- Lose weight if you need to.
- On most days, get 30 to 60 minutes of physical exercise. Run, swim, cycle.
- Consume more monounsaturated fats like oil, canola and peanut oils.
Another tip: try to avoid being an “apple” shaped person, meaning someone with a big tummy. People with excess belly fat are more prone to high triglycerides, high LDL, and have low HDL readings. Pear shapes, meaning fat around the hips, tend to be heart healthier. They also tend to be female.
And finally, know your numbers. If your total cholesterol is 200-239 mg/dl, you’re borderline high and at risk for developing heart disease. If you are 240 or higher, you’re at high risk. You’ll want to work with your doctor to eat better, get more exercise, and quit smoking, at the least.
Learn more about high cholesterol.
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