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Improve Your Cholesterol Levels and Protect Your Heart Health

Improve Your Cholesterol Levels and Protect Your Heart Health

More than 2,500 people in the United States die every day from heart disease. One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high cholesterol. The good news is that high cholesterol is usually something you can control with lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.

At South Plains Rural Health Services, we're committed to helping you reduce your risk of heart disease and that means teaching you strategies to protect your heart health. Read on to learn about effective ways to improve your cholesterol levels and, as a result, your heart health.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is simply a fatty substance in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but having too high of levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. There are two types of cholesterol:

When your cholesterol is measured through a blood test, results show up as milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The levels for total cholesterol in adults are:

Genetics can play a role in high cholesterol levels, but regardless, you can take action to keep them in check. 

Ways to improve cholesterol levels

Lifestyle changes can improve your cholesterol levels and your overall heart health. This is true whether or not you’re on medications for cholesterol management.

Here are some key ways to improve your cholesterol levels:

Adopt a healthy diet that supports heart health

A heart-healthy diet is one with limited intake of saturated fats, which are found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products. Opt for leaner cuts of meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy options.

You should also make an effort to eliminate trans fats, often found in margarine and store-bought baked goods. Trans fats are particularly harmful for your cholesterol levels.

Some fat is important in a healthy diet, however. Omega-3 fats, which don’t affect LDL cholesterol, have additional heart benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Good sources include salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Increasing your intake of soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Examples of high-soluble fiber foods include oats, beans, lentils, apples, and pears.

Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity can help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise several days of the week. Activities like brisk walking, running, cycling, and swimming are great choices.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Carrying excess weight, especially around your midsection, can negatively impact your cholesterol levels. Losing even a small amount of weight, like 10 pounds, can help improve your cholesterol profile. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Quit smoking

Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level and benefits your heart in multiple ways. Your body responds rapidly to smoking cessation and improves your HDL levels. After 10 years of quitting, you reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by six years

Other strategies to lower cholesterol levels

Sometimes, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to bring your cholesterol levels to a healthy range. In such cases, we might recommend medication to help lower your cholesterol. Common medications include statins, bile-acid-binding resins, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors. 

Even if you’re on these medications, it’s important to continue with lifestyle modifications to achieve the best results.

South Plains Rural Health Services is here to support your heart health. We can help you take the necessary steps to prevent heart disease and manage it, if it should develop. 

Set up a visit to have your risk factors evaluated and your cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Call one of our four locations, or use our online scheduling tool to make your appointment today.


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