cholesterol test
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First Step: Know Your Numbers

Your cholesterol is a simple blood test that provides critical numbers about your cholesterol. It gives you your total cholesterol, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), HDL (“good cholesterol”), and triglycerides. Your doctor will help figure out your cholesterol goals based on your calculated 10-year risk, and create a strategy for reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

-- Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, spokesperson for Go Red for Women and the American Heart Association

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woman exercising
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Try Sneaky Ways to Stay Active

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week. Any amount counts to accumulate those minutes. Park your car far away. Take stairs instead of the elevator. Walk for 10-15 minutes during lunch. Your triglycerides are extremely sensitive to physical activity. Levels can go down drastically with daily walking.

-- Salim Virani, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA, FASPC, chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention Section and Leadership Council

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fresh food
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Trade Processed for Plant-Based

Eat real food that grows out of the ground, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Think fields, not factories. Studies show a plant-based diet can help you control cholesterol, maintain a healthy body weight, and lower your blood sugar levels. A plant-based diet can also improve your mood, sense of well-being, and daily functioning.

-- Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, physician specializing in clinical nutrition and founder of

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family lunch
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Put Some Variety on Your Plate

Eat a healthy diet and enjoy your food. I recommend a “rainbow diet,” which means eating all the colors of the rainbow through plants and vegetables. Give yourself time to eat and savor meals. Food is meant to be enjoyed and shared. Eat with others. Eat your lunch away from the computer. It’s unsatisfying to eat and multitask. And you’ll snack less if you take a break to eat lunch.

-- Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC, chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix

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vegetable bowl
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Bump Up Your Fiber Intake

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have plenty of fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. They also help you feel fuller, so you don’t eat as many calories. Try to eat two cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day, some cooked and some raw. Choose unrefined whole grains, like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and popcorn.

-- Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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deck of cards
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Break Up with Saturated Fats

Eating foods with saturated fats, like fatty meats, full-fat dairy, fried foods, and some cooking oils, raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. Avoid or limit red meat and pork to a deck-of-cards-sized portion once a week. Avoid cod liver oil or coconut oil. Make sure dairy foods are skim (no-fat) or have just small amounts of fat (1-2%).

-- Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University and American Heart Association volunteer

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/22/2020 Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 22, 2020



2) American College of Cardiology

3) Suzanne Steinbaum, MD

4) American College of Cardiology

5) Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

6) American Heart Association

7) Suzanne Steinbaum, MD


Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago.

Michael Greger, MD, spokesperson,

Martha Gulati, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.

Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, Northwestern University, Chicago. 

Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, spokesperson, Go Red for Women.

Salim Virani, MD, American College of Cardiology, Washington, D.C.

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 22, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.