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September is National Cholesterol Education Month


September is National Cholesterol Education Month

Nearly one in eight American adults have high levels of total cholesterol, reports the CDC.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. Your body needs some cholesterol, but it can build up on the walls of your arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke when you have too much in your blood. 

Having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. People with high cholesterol have about twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels. 

What You Need to Know About Cholesterol:  

A person’s total cholesterol level includes measurements of:   •HDL, or “good” cholesterol  •LDL, or “bad” cholesterol •Triglycerides  Cholesterol levels also vary slightly based on your age and gender. 

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults get their cholesterol checked every five years.   

Desirable Cholesterol Levels:

 Total cholesterol-Less than 200 mg/dL   

LDL (“bad” cholesterol)-Less than 100 mg/dL   

HDL (“good” cholesterol)- 60 mg/dL or higher

Triglycerides-Less than 150 mg/dL

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high. Your provider can do a simple blood test to check your levels. If you find that your cholesterol is high, while you may be tempted to ask your provider for a cholesterol-lowering prescription, you should also consider making a few dietary changes.  

Helpful dietary considerations:

 1. High-Fiber Foods   High-fiber foods, including oat bran, oatmeal and brown breads, can counteract the elevation in cholesterol. It makes cholesterol more soluble and allows your body to clear it on its own.   

 2. Fish  Not all seafood is created equally, however. The best in terms of lowering cholesterol are tuna, salmon, and swordfish. Sardines and halibut are good options, too.  If you don’t like to eat fish, consider taking omega-3 supplements. But, talk to your doctor before taking over-the-counter supplements.•Related: Eat More Protein to Lose Weight   

3. Monounsaturated Fat- Monounsaturated fat is found in olive oil and avocado. Guacamole is probably OK, but if you’re eating it with fried chips, you’re not really doing yourself a big favor. Plain avocado on salads and such is helpful.  Additionally, always opt to cook or bake – not fry – with olive oil, when possible; avoid cooking with butter and shortening.

Don’t forget, in addition to eating a healthy diet, exercising and not smoking will help you prevent high cholesterol and reduce your levels.

For more information and for help with lowering your cholesterol, contact our office, Staunton Primary Care (513) 685-8853