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Kluwan : Do you know your numbers? Your cholesterol numbers that is. You should have your cholesterol measured annually after age 30, especially if there is a family history of high cholesterol or heart problems. High cholesterol can double the risk for heart disease. It can be possible for your body to produce too much cholesterol, even if you take steps to lower your cholesterol.However, many people successfully lower their cholesterol with some simple changes. There are three ways to improve your cholesterol levels.
1. Diet: Start by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Use low- or non-fat dairy. Replace olive, grapeseed, canola or safflower oils for butter, lard or margarine. Avoid foods that contain saturated, hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated fats or trans-fats. Reading some food labels can require a dictionary. Even better, buy fewer packaged foods. These tips will help you reduce saturated fat low and increase fiber, a win-win for managing cholesterol.
2. Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Exercise can result in weight loss, better cholesterol levels and a more stabilized blood sugar. There is no such thing as bad exercise (unless you are over exercising). Some common cardio exercises include brisk walking, bicycling, and hiking. Take on hills for an extra challenge. Swimming is another ideal choice if you want a non-impact workout.
3. Weight Control: Take care of #1 and #2 and #3 will happen naturally. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can increase blood pressure, bad cholesterol and risk of developing diabetes. Don't obsess over the scale weight, be sure that your nutritional changes are shrinking your waistline. Aim to reduce abdominal fat because fat in this area increases the risk of heart disease.
Don’t forget to have those numbers checked. If anything is off, don’t panic… just begin implementing smart, healthy choices. Start by preparing your own healthy foods and cut back on high salt, high fat, and larger portion foods.
This month is particularly personal for me, as my mom has heart disease. She had quadruple bypass surgery one year ago this month. If you know someone who would benefit from this information on preventing heart disease, please share it.