Controlling Cholesterol with Life's Simple 7

Updated:Jun 7,2016
What can we do to control cholesterol? Start with these 3 steps.
  1. Understand Cholesterol Levels
The first step to controlling cholesterol is to understand where it comes from, what the levels mean and what the recommended level is for each kind to lower the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. heart.org/CholesterolLevels

Cholesterol comes from two sources: our body and our food. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.

  • HDL CHOLESTEROL = GOOD – thumbs up
    High-density lipoprotein is known as "good" cholesterol.
     
  • LDL CHOLESTEROL = BAD – thumbs down
    Low-density lipoprotein is known as "bad" cholesterol.
    HDL helps keep the LDL from sticking to our artery walls. This can aid in lowering the risk of developing atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. heart.org/Atherosclerosis|
     
  • TRIGLYCERIDES - This is a form of fat made in the body.
     
  • TOTAL CHOLESTEROL - HDL plus LDL and 1/5th of triglyceride level = total cholesterol level.
The most important things you can do to control your cholesterol are:
  • Know your numbers, and discuss your risk with your physician
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices
  1. Learn and Monitor Cholesterol Levels
To find out if we have high blood cholesterol we should have a complete fasting lipoprotein profile performed by a healthcare professional.
We can track our cholesterol and our efforts to control it online with Heart360. Heart360.org
  1. Tips for Success
Setting realistic goals and making slow changes over time are the best ways to set ourselves up for success, feel our best and live a healthy life.
  • Eat Better. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts, while limiting red meat and sugary foods and beverages – is low in saturated and trans fats and a delicious way to help our cholesterol levels. heart.org/Nutrition
     
  • Get Active. Enjoying at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity on five or more days each week for at least 150 minutes per week is key to overall cardiovascular health or an average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. heart.org/PhysicalActivity
     
  • Know Your Fats. Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don't is a big step in lowering our risk of heart disease. Replacing saturated fat and trans fat with monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat might help lower LDL cholesterol when eaten as part of a healthy diet. heart.org/Fats
     
  • Take medication as directed. Following our healthcare provider's advice is the best way to reach our treatment goals and enjoy the benefits of better health. heart.org/CholesterolMedication
     
  • Quit Smoking. If we smoke, our cholesterol level is one more good reason to quit. And everyone should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. heart.org/QuitSmoking
Learn more at heart.org/MyLifeCheck and heart.org/Cholesterol.

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