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5 Practical Ways to Manage High Cholesterol

5 Practical Ways to Manage High Cholesterol

High levels of a waxy substance called cholesterol in your blood have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. However, your body actually needs cholesterol to build healthy cells and produce vitamins. In fact, your liver produces cholesterol to keep your body healthy. 

But, depending on your genes and your lifestyle, you may produce too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL), sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol. When excess LDL circulates in your blood, it can damage your blood vessels and cause blockages that could lead to heart attack or stroke. 

Healthy cholesterol levels vary by age, weight, and sex. In general, anyone under 19 should have a total cholesterol level of less than 170 mg/dL. Adults over age 20 should aim for 125-200 mg/dL.

If your levels are higher than normal, our team of expert providers at Modern Wellness Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, want to help you bring them down. In some cases, you may benefit from medications that control your LDL as well as lifestyle changes. 

You don’t necessarily have to take a statin to lower your LDL and raise your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol. Everyone who’s interested in keeping their heart healthy and LDL low can do so just by making a few changes to their habits and diets. 

1. Go Mediterranean

Eat like folks in the “blue zones” around the world, including the Mediterranean, where diets emphasize lots of fresh vegetables, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, and some whole or sprouted grains. Any of the heart-healthy diets are beneficial for balancing your cholesterol levels. 

You don’t have to worry too much about avoiding foods that contain cholesterol, though. About 85% of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver, not by your diet. However, adopting the following steps help your body get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and keep your cholesterol in normal ranges:

In addition to the Mediterranean diet, consider the DASH diet, and even the FDA’s MyPlate for guidance on healthy eating.

2. Exercise every day

Walk daily and find activities that you really enjoy doing, either alone or with a friend. Some fun ways to strengthen your heart include:

Go solo, or find a work-out buddy. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Or, if you like a hard workout, do that for 20 minutes three times a week. With your doctor’s OK, work up to vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.

3. Lose weight

If you follow the first two tips, #3 may happen all on its own. When you give your body what it needs — plenty of stimulating movement and lots of fresh nutrients — excess fat tends to burn itself off. As you get healthier, too, your metabolism becomes more efficient so that it’s easier to build muscle and burn fat.

4. Quit smoking

Smoking dries out your blood vessels and makes them more susceptible to damage from excess LDL. Once you quit smoking, your “good” HDL levels immediately improve. Your blood pressure also goes down, which helps protect your heart.

5. Limit alcohol

Although many Mediterranean and blue zone diets emphasize a daily drink of red wine, you can get the same nutrients and antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables, without the alcohol. In fact, when you drink alcohol, your liver breaks it down into triglycerides and cholesterol. 

Alcohol’s high sugar content also tends to make you put on weight, which is stressful for your heart. In addition, it raises your blood pressure. Finally, even small amounts of alcohol are associated with an increased risk of some cancers.

Find out more about how to get your cholesterol levels into the normal range to improve your heat health today. Contact our office by phone at 702-463-9159 or use our online booking form.

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