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Now that we know why it is important to be educated about cholesterol and our own levels of cholesterol, lets talk about how to prevent and treat high cholesterol numbers! As we talked about in the last post, Cholesterol Part 1, having too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States, with over 2,100 Americans dying from this disease every day. The good news?! Cholesterol can be lowered and you can reduce your risk of heart disease!

*If you have high cholesterol, it is important to work with your doctor and come up with an action plan to lower it.

Lifestyle changes are key in preventing and lowering your cholesterol. Here are some prevention and treatment tips based on the American Heart Association:

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet: This is something that we all can be doing to not only prevent high cholesterol, but also to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy will help you feel better and have more energy, prevent many diseases and sicknesses, and much much more! Focus on a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts. Try to limit red meats and sugary foods. Read here for more tips on nutrition.

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Know Your Fats: LDL cholesterol, or the “bad” cholesterol, is affected by the foods that we eat. Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones do not, is a very important step in reducing and preventing high cholesterol. Since our bodies naturally make LDL cholesterol, when we eat saturated fats and trans fats, our cholesterol is increased even further. Here are the guidelines on fats by the American Heart Association:

For adults who would benefit from lowering their LDL cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends:

  • Reducing saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day that’s about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat.
  • Reducing the percent of calories from trans fat.

The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee strongly advises these fat guidelines for healthy Americans over age 2:

  • Eating between 25 and 35 percent of your total daily calories as fats from foods like fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat to less than 7 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need about 2,000 calories a day, less than 140 calories (or 16 grams) should come from saturated fats.
  • Limiting the amount of trans fats to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need about 2,000 calories a day, less than 20 calories (or 2 grams) should come from trans fats.
  • Limiting cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams a day for most people.
  • For good health, the majority of fats you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

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Get Moving! Exercise is extremely important for everyone! Along with many other things, being physically active is a very important factor in reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke. At least 30 minutes per day/at least 5 days a week of moderate exercise is recommended for overall cardiovascular health. To reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, an average of 40 minutes/3-4 times per week of moderate to vigorous activity is recommended. That’s doable right?!! If you think that you cannot make this time goal, remember that something is always better than nothing! You can split exercise up into two to three segments throughout the day if you need to…just move that body! 

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Avoid Tobacco Smoke: People who smoke have a higher risk of developing many chronic diseases including atherosclerosis (fatty substance buildup in the arteries) and heart disease. 

It is amazing what healthy lifestyle changes will do for us! Healthy eating and exercise not only help us feel more confident and energized, but they both have such a positive impact on our quality of life! Lets all take the plunge for a happier and healthier lifestyle!

-McKell

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