By Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain
Did you know that September is National Cholesterol Education Month? Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is naturally found in your body and some foods. However, high levels of cholesterol can lead to build-up in your arteries and put you at risk for heart disease and stroke. While many adults understand high cholesterol can be troublesome to their overall well-being, according to the CDC, more than 102 million Americans have “unhealthy” cholesterol levels. During this awareness month, take precaution by following these 4 steps towards a healthier heart and lower cholesterol.
Step 1: Make healthy eating choices. Some foods contain high levels of cholesterol, and when eaten, can raise your cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat and trans-fat to help reduce spiking your levels. Eating a balanced diet of lean meats, seafood, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can also help limit the intake of excess saturated fat.
Step 2: Exercise regularly. There’s no doubt that regular physical activity is a great way to help maintain a healthy weight, but it can also help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Each week, adults should aim for a cumulative total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like bicycling or brisk walking or swimming. By making exercise a part of your routine, you can easily achieve this goal – and help maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
Step 3: Visit your physician for regular cholesterol checks. In addition to your everyday practices, regular check-ins with your family practitioner are beneficial for overall health. Whether you want to check your cholesterol or address concerns or track your well-being, plan for a yearly check-up!
Step 4: Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your cholesterol to an unhealthy level. Talk to your doctor to determine what a healthy weight looks like for you. During this conversation, consider creating a food or fitness plan to help you stay on track towards your overall health goals.
If you have questions about monitoring your cholesterol, National Cholesterol Education Month is the perfect time to address them. Although it might seem like a daunting task, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can help prevent health problems in your future. If you have more questions about keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level, reach out to your physician for a personalized plan.
Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood. For more information, call 972-394-8844, or visit texasmedicine.com.