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Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels

If you watch television for any length of time, chances are you have seen the cholesterol commercials that talk about your LDL and your HDL; good and bad cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and strokes and because of that you will want to have your doctor check your levels. While you may not need to know everything about levels, understanding your cholesterol levels can help you make changes to your diet, if necessary.

Start by asking your doctor to explain your cholesterol and overall health to you so you can understand your starting points. With a starting point you will be able to determine how well your efforts are paying off when you make changes to your diet and exercise habits.

The first, and most important, step is to give your diet a makeover. Move away from processed foods as they are typically full of fat, calories, salt and sugar. Make a change to fewer processed foods and more whole foods such as fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen are best), whole grains, fish, oatmeal, walnuts and limit your meat intake or switch to chicken breast sans skin.

If you smoke, it can negatively impact your “good” cholesterol levels. If you stop smoking you will see benefits not only in your cholesterol levels, but in your overall health.

Get up and move! Our sedentary lives lead to weight gain and other health risks, especially as we age. If you get up and move for even thirty minutes a day for a brisk walk, you can control your weight and if you lose weight, your cholesterol levels may improve.

Ask your doctor about supplements and other medical ways to improve your cholesterol. Some individuals want to try to lower their cholesterol through diet and exercise before they begin taking medications, but your doctor may prescribe medication if your levels are too high or if you have a family history of high cholesterol.

While high cholesterol is a health risk factor, it is not the only risk factor that many of us face, especially as we age. It might make sense to schedule a visit with your doctor for a physical and also before you start any exercise program. Take steps today to live a healthier life!

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