Here's How You Can Lower Your Cholesterol

Here's How You Can Lower Your Cholesterol

A whopping 93 million adults over the age of 20 in the United States have elevated levels of total cholesterol (>200), while nearly 30 million of whom qualify as having high total cholesterol (>240). 

Whether it’s elevated or high, getting your cholesterol numbers to where they should be is one of the first lines of defense when it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented, including life-threatening events like a heart attack or stroke.

Our goal in presenting these numbers up front is to underscore two points: 1) the magnitude of the problem; and 2) that there are solutions.

At Humble Cardiology Associates, Dr. Madaiah Revana and our team see opportunity in these numbers, and we’re going to focus on the second part of the equation — prevention.

Here, we review a few tips that can go a long way toward lowering your overall cholesterol numbers, taking you out of the line of fire when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

Know your numbers

We casually talk about “high” or “elevated” cholesterol numbers, but it’s important that you understand to what we’re referring. When we test your cholesterol levels, we’re measuring three things in your blood, including your:

  1. Low density lipoproteins (LDLs), which are considered your “bad” cholesterol
  2. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs), which are your “good” cholesterol
  3. Triglycerides, a common type of fat

Your HDLs carry cholesterol to take it out of your body, so we want to see a good balance between HDL and LDL — having lower-than-normal HDL levels can be equally as problematic as having higher-than-normal levels of LDLs. In other words, either scenario leads to too much cholesterol in your blood, which can build up on the walls of your blood vessels.

So, when we say that we want you to “lower” your cholesterol, we’re referring to striking a better balance between your HDLs, LDLs, and triglycerides, which often means increasing the first and lowering the second two, respectively.

Lowering saturated and trans fat

First, in case you’re wondering about dietary cholesterol, your liver naturally produces the cholesterol your body needs. When you eat more cholesterol, your liver produces less of it. So it’s generally known that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels when you’re eating an otherwise healthy diet.

One of the best ways to lower your cholesterol numbers is to pay close attention to the levels of trans and saturated fats you eat. It’s impossible to list here what those foods are (there are many), but most products supply this information on their labeling. 

Unfortunately, the products that have labeling are the ones you should avoid, as processed and junk foods generally contain high levels of unhealthy fats. Other offenders include fatty meats, fried foods, and baked goods. 

In general, you want to totally avoid trans fats and limit your saturated fat intake. For foods with saturated fat, 100% grass-fed beef and dairy products are a better choice because their fat content is healthier.

Introduce produce

We mentioned that foods with labels are generally foods that aren’t all that healthy for your cardiovascular system. Conversely, those foods that don’t have labels — fruits and vegetables — are quite the opposite, as they’re chock full of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Not only are fruits and vegetables long on nutritional value, most contain no fats.

Of the types of produce that do contain fats, olives and avocados have healthy fats, so they’re a great part of a nutritious diet. Nuts and nut butters also contains “good” fats.

Get up and move

Another great tip for striking a better cholesterol balance is to exercise. When you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you can lower your HDL numbers, which means your LDL numbers start to gain dangerous ground. By exercising for at least 150 minutes a week, you can keep your good cholesterol fighting fit.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, you may be increasing your LDL numbers and decreasing your HDL numbers, which is a bad combination. There are many reasons why you should quit smoking, and rebalancing your cholesterol should figure high on the list.

Monitor your progress

If you follow these tips, it’s important to come see us regularly so we can monitor your progress and make any adjustments along the way. If you’re struggling to bring your numbers down through these tips alone, we can prescribe medications that can help.

To get started on better controlling your cholesterol numbers today, contact one of our offices in Humble or Houston, Texas, to determine your baseline and discuss the tips we outline above.

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