Cholesterol is a substance that our bodies need in order to build healthy cells, but having too much cholesterol in the blood can have negative consequences. High cholesterol levels lead to the development of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, making it difficult for blood to flow freely. Decreased blood flow can lead to a stroke, and can increase the risk for a heart attack.
While high cholesterol can be caused by genetics, it’s also frequently the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Consider these three ways to lower your cholesterol.
- Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking damages the walls of blood vessels, making them more susceptible to the accumulation of fatty deposits. Quitting smoking can increase your HDL (good) cholesterol, and will reduce both your blood pressure and your heart rate. Within one year, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker.
- Exercise as often as possible. Strive for at least 30 minutes each day, with your doctor’s approval. Walk during your lunch hour, do floor exercises while watching tv, or play a favorite sport. Physical activity may lead to weight loss, further reducing cholesterol.
- Change how you eat. According to studies by the University of California, San Francisco, following a heart-healthy diet helps prevent and treat heart disease. “The UCSF study shows that some fats and oils are healthier than others,” said Dr. Priyanka Gauravi, Endocrinologist with Morrison Community Hospital. “It recommends limiting saturated, hydrogenated, and trans-fats, along with dairy fats such as butter, cream cheese, and whole milk. Fatty meats, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs should be consumed in moderation. Plant oils are best, including olive, peanut, safflower, and canola oils.” Dr. Guaravi recommends eating nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios), seeds (pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower), avocado, and foods that offer Omega-3 fats, such as salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Deep fried foods should be avoided. For more information, please contact:
Dr. Priyanka Guaravi
303 North Jackson Street
Morrison, IL 61270