Controlling Your Cholesterol - Heart Healthy Discussion with Bronson Experts
Keeping your cholesterol in check is a great way to ensure a healthy heart and body.
When cholesterol levels are high, it makes it hard for blood to flow through the arteries. When the heart doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood, it can increase the likelihood of heart attack, heart disease or stroke.
“Making small changes in your daily routine can help keep your cholesterol levels in balance,” says cardiologist Brett Eliuk, MD, of Bronson Advanced Cardiac Healthcare. “Although you can’t change your family history, you do have control over the lifestyle choices you make.”
Check out these eight tips on how to better manage your cholesterol levels.
- Know your numbers.
Your doctor can give you the best idea of what your goal levels should be based on your current cholesterol levels. Total blood cholesterol accounts for your low density lipoprotein (LDL) level, high density lipoprotein (HDL) level and 20 percent of your triglyceride level. LDL is the “bad” type of cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” type of cholesterol. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood.
- Start moving.
Exercising on a regular basis increases the production of good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases the production of bad cholesterol (LDL). Aim to set aside 30 minutes a day, four to five times a week to dedicate to moderate physical activity.
- Avoid unhealthy fats.
Saturated fats and trans fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, which increase your risk for heart disease. These bad fats are found in foods like red meat, dairy and butter. Focus on nourishing your body with unsaturated fats by eating foods like fish, nuts and olive oil. You may benefit from a dietitian, who can help you make personalized meal plans to aid in the transition of healthier eating. If you decide to change your diet, please consult your doctor first.
- Fuel with fiber.
Fiber helps your body eliminate bad cholesterol (LDL). Swap out refined grains for whole wheat, brown rice, barley or rye. Eating more whole grains helps your body feel fuller. Fiber also helps you keep your blood sugar levels at a safe and steady level.
- Manage your weight.
Getting rid of extra pounds that your body is carrying helps reduce the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are another form of fat in the blood. When triglyceride levels are high, it can heighten the risk of stroke. Don’t know where to start? Check out Bronson’s available classes and events for weight management.
- Go green.
Consider substituting sugary drinks with green tea. Research indicates that green tea contains antioxidants which help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Research also estimates that drinking three cups of tea per day may reduce your risk of heart disease by 11 percent.
- Stop smoking.
Cigarette smoke damages blood vessels and makes it easier for your blood to clot. Smoking also reduces the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) your body has. Secondhand smoke has the same negative effect. Click here for more information on smoking cessation programs available at Bronson.
- Use medication if needed.
If you make healthy changes and your bad cholesterol (LDL) continues to be high, medication may be an effective way to lower your levels. Talk with your doctor about the available prescription options that would work best for you.
*Sources: heart.org, mayoclinic.org and umm.edu
The Bronson Heart & Vascular team is committed to heart and vascular disease prevention, and sharing easy steps you can take to live a healthier life. Looking for a Bronson doctor to help you? For a complete list of providers at Bronson, visit bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doctor or call Bronson HealthAnswers at (269) 341-7723.