Lower Your Cholesterol
cholesterol is one of the top risk factors for heart
Diet, exercise and medication can help lower your
The bad news first: High cholesterol is one of the
leading risk factors for heart disease. The good
news: High cholesterol levels can be lowered by diet
and exercise or medicine.
Optimal total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL,
according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood
Institute (NHLBI). If your cholesterol level is
high-240 mg/dL or more-or if you have type 2
diabetes, have your doctor help you design a
program to lower your cholesterol.
If your level is border line -
high- between 200 mg/dL and 239 mg/dL-and you have
another risk factor for heart disease obesity, a
sedentary lifestyle or cigarette smoking - work with
your doctor to lower your cholesterol and eliminate
your other risk factors.
If your level is borderline-high and you have no
other risk factors for heart disease, try lowering
it by modifying your diet and starting a moderate
A complete cholesterol test
will measure your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels, as well as
triglycerides. A borderline -high or high level of
LDL or "bad" cholesterol (above 130 mg/dL or a low
level of HDL or "good" cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL
can increase you r risk for heart disease . A
borderline-high (150 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL or high (200
mg/dL or greater) level of triglycerides also can
raise your risk for heart disease.
You can't do anything about
some risk factors for heart disease:
a family history of the disease or increasing age.
Men ages 45 and older, and women ages 55 and older
are at greater risk. You can make lifestyle changes,
however, that should help you lower your total
cholesterol level by 10 percent to 15 percent.
Lose extra weight.
Excess weight raises total cholesterol and
triglycerides and lowers HDL levels. Obesity also is
an independent risk factor for heart disease.
Combine a low fat diet with regular exercise to take
Reduce saturated fats.
No more than 10 percent of your daily calories
should come from saturated fats, which raise
cholesterol. Adults should consume no more
than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day. Dietary
cholesterol is present in all foods of animal origin
including meat, fish, chicken, eggs and whole-milk
dairy products such as milk and cheese. One way to
eliminate the cholesterol in dairy products is to
buy non-fat milk and cheese.
Add soluble fiber. Oatmeal, oat
bran, beans, fruits and vegetables can lower your
total cholesterol. Individuals following a low fat
diet may further lower their cholesterol by 2
percent to 3 percent if they start each day with a
large bowl of oatmeal.
An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for heart
disease. Regular aerobic exercise, even a moderate
walking regimen, done most or all days of the week
will lower your overall risk. Vigorous exercise may
increase HDL cholesterol 10 percent to 20 percent.
Cigarette smokers have lower HDL levels and an
increased risk of heart disease.
Lower your blood
pressure. High blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg
or greater) is a risk factor for heart disease.
If you are at high risk for developing heart disease,
your doctor may prescribe medication, as well as
dietary changes and exercise, to help lower your LD
L cholesterol levels. If you are at lower risk, diet
and other lifestyle changes may be enough to lower
your LDL levels. Be sure to follow up with your
doctor for further testing or to ask additional