5 Lifestyle Tips for Keeping Your Cholesterol in Check

If you have high cholesterol, our team at Joshua Medical Group wants to help. You should aim for total cholesterol levels below 200 with LDL (low density lipoprotein) levels less than 130 as a general goal. High levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein) of 45-55 (or greater) are another positive.

When cholesterol numbers aren’t ideal, you’re at a greater risk of heart disease and heart attack. While medications can help, lifestyle habits are also critical in lowering your cholesterol levels. Do the following and watch your numbers get to a healthier level.

1. Exercise

When you exercise, your levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) rise and levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) decrease. Aim for an absolute minimum of 30 minutes per day, five days per week. More is better. If you can exercise to the point that raises your heart rate to about 75% of its maximum, all the better.

Resistance training is also helpful in developing a better body composition, meaning you gain muscle and reduce fat. Two times per week of about 20 minutes of resistance training that involves every major muscle group at a minimum of 50% maximum effort is enough to have an impact on your cholesterol levels.

If you need help starting an exercise program, talk to us. We’re happy to help.

2. Quit tobacco

Smoking changes the way your body handles cholesterol. When you smoke or use tobacco, the tobacco tar makes it hard for your immune cells to clear cholesterol from your blood vessel walls and transport it to the liver. Smokers are thus more likely to develop clogs in the blood vessels, which puts you at great risk of heart disease and heart attack.

At Joshua Medical Group, we can help you quit smoking. Just talk to us.

3. Lose weight

Carrying too many pounds contributes to your body’s accumulation of cholesterol. We can help you make small changes. Losing even 5-10% of your weight (for a 200-pound person, that’s about 10-20 pounds) can make a difference in your cholesterol levels.

Tips for weight loss include exercise (of course) as well as reducing your intake of sugary beverages, choosing lean meats, switching to whole grains from white flour foods, and opting for low-fat dairy products.

4. Eat right for your heart

A healthy diet can improve your cholesterol levels by helping you lose weight and supplying you with the right types of nutrients. Eat fewer saturated fats, found primarily in full-fat dairy and animal products, and eliminate transfats altogether. Transfats are listed as “partially hydrogenated” oils on food labels.

You can focus instead on foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Your intake of soluble fiber may also increase as it reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is the type found in oatmeal, apples, and Brussels sprouts.

5. Lighten up on the alcohol

Drink in moderation. Aim for no more than one drink a day for women and just two for men. Too much alcohol can contribute to increased cholesterol levels and hypertension.

Take your cholesterol numbers seriously. When the overall number is too high or your LDL-to-HDL ratio is unfavorable, you really are at risk of a heart attack. We can help you make the simple changes that reduce your levels. Call Joshua Medical Group for an appointment with Dr. Gonzalo Martinez or book online to learn more today.

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