High Cholesterol in Men
Why should I care about high cholesterol in men? continued...
How does the doctor know I have high cholesterol?
There are two different types of cholesterol tests. The simplest measures total cholesterol levels in the blood. Most doctors, though, use a lipoprotein analysis, which includes:
- Total cholesterol level
- LDL cholesterol level
- HDL cholesterol level
- Triglycerides (another fat in your blood that raises the risk of heart disease)
How can I prevent high cholesterol?
To reduce your cholesterol, one of the most important change to make is to cut back on the amount of saturated fat and trans fats in your diet. That means cutting back on meat and poultry -- either by eating smaller portions or eating them less often -- and choosing skim or low-fat dairy products. It also means eating less fried food, processed food, and foods high in sugar.
It is also important to increase the amount of soluble fiber you eat. This form of fiber, found in oatmeal, kidney beans, and apples, for example, helps remove LDL from the body.
If you are overweight or obese, losing even just a few pounds can help lower your cholesterol levels. There is no magical formula for weight loss, of course, but reducing portion sizes and cutting out things you can easily live without, such as beverages sweetened with sugar, is a good place to start. The average American now gets more than 20% of calories from beverages. Switching to water is painless and can make a big difference in total calories.
Regular exercise -- as little as a brisk 30-minute walk most days -- raises HDL and may also slightly lower LDL. Exercise is especially important if you have high triglyceride and LDL levels and more than your share of abdominal fat.
What are the treatments for high cholesterol?
The first treatment of choice for high cholesterol is adopting a healthier lifestyle. In many people who have cholesterol in the borderline high category, healthier habits can bring the numbers down to normal. If lifestyle changes are not enough, a variety of cholesterol-lowering medications are available. The leading choice -- statin drugs -- are very effective at lowering LDL. Recent studies have confirmed that, by lowering cholesterol levels, these drugs reduce the risk of heart disease.