Has your doctor told you that your cholesterol is high? If s/he has, the good news is that there are things you can do to bring it down!
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is fat that is found in the blood. It is okay to have a certain amount of fat in the blood, but too much is not healthy and means that you have high cholesterol. When there's too much cholesterol in the blood, it starts to stick to the walls of the arteries, making the arteries narrower. This in turn, makes it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body and can cause high blood pressure (hypertension).
There are two kinds of cholesterol:
• Low density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the " bad" cholesterol. The goal is to lower your LDL levels. Remember " L" for " lower."
• High density lipoprotein (HDL), known as the "good" cholesterol. The goal is to make your HDL levels higher. Remember, " H" for " higher."
Here are a few simple steps you can take to lower your cholesterol:
• Get regular physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends that you engage in physical activity about 30 to 60 minutes a day. If that seems like a lot, even simple activities such as walking instead of taking the subway or housework can make a difference.
• Quit smoking. You can never hear it enough: quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Smoking increases the amount of LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases the amount of HDL (good cholesterol). For more information on how to quit, please visit New York State's Quitline website at http://www.nysmokefree.com/newweb/default.aspx or call them for free coaching, medication and support at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).
• Eat a heart healthy diet. A heart friendly diet includes plenty of the following
o Fruits and vegetables
o Whole grains
o High-fiber foods
o Lean meats and poultry
o Fish at least twice a week
o Fat-free or one percent dairy products.
It is low in:
o Saturated and trans fats
• Take medications as your doctor prescribes. Sometimes making lifestyle changes isn't enough to lower your cholesterol and you may need to take a medication to lower your cholesterol.