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Understanding Cholesterol Problems: Prevention

How Can I Prevent Cholesterol Problems?

 

As with many other health problems, prevention is the best medicine. You can help prevent high cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease by:

Understanding Cholesterol

Find out more about cholesterol:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevention

  • Keeping your weight in check
  • Eating no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day
  • Getting no more than 20%-35% of your daily calories from fat
  • Avoiding all trans fats
  • Avoiding refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  • Exercising 3 to 4 times a week (vigorously if you can, but moderate exercise is better than none at all)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Tracking your progress (Have your blood cholesterol level tested periodically by your doctor. At-home test kits may be unreliable.)

 

Cholesterol Screening

Regular cholesterol screenings are recommended for men and women older than age 20 every five years. This is done by drawing a blood sample. Regular screenings are particularly important for people with diabetes, obesity, or a family history of heart disease. If you fit into this category, you may need to be screened more frequently.

 

 

A Diet for Lower Cholesterol

If you know your foods well, you can distinguish friend from foe. Here are some tips for keeping cholesterol low.

  • Cut back on high-fat red meat because of its high saturated fat and cholesterol content. When you do indulge, eat only lean meats with very little visible fat. Your store's butcher may be able to help you select lower-fat cuts of different meats. Examples of lean beef include London broil, eye of round, and filet mignon.  When eating red meat, enjoy unprocessed meats rather than processed meats like bacon or sausage, which are associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
  • Remove the skin on poultry.
  • Increase your consumption of seafood. Most fish contains less fat and cholesterol than most meat. Most shellfish are also low in fat, although some are high in cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish each week for heart health.
  • Whenever possible, go easy on whole-fat dairy products, mayonnaise, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or fats such as stick margarine. These products are usually high in saturated fats and may also contain trans fats, which can raise your cholesterol level.
  • For cooking, replace saturated fats that are solid at room temperature (such as butter and shortening) with liquid monounsaturated fats such as olive, canola, or flax oil. There is evidence that consuming moderate amounts of monounsaturated fat -- found in such foods as nuts, seeds, and avocados -- may actually lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Foods rich in plant sterols can help lower cholesterol. Look for foods that contain heart-healthy plant sterols and aim for 2 servings a day. Plant sterols have been added to soft margarines, granola bars, yogurts, and orange juice.
  • Finally, select foods that contain water-soluble fiber, which offers an excellent defense against high blood cholesterol. High-fiber foods include grapefruit, apples, beans and other legumes, psyllium seed, barley, carrots, cabbage, and oatmeal.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on March 08, 2014

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

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or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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