10 Strategies for Lowering Cholesterol
Find out how to interpret your cholesterol test results. Plus, House Call Doctor has 10 tips to lower your cholesterol without medication.
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Here’s an all-too-familiar scenario you may have already encountered:
You visit your doctor for a physical and she orders a cholesterol test as part of your baseline lab work. You hate needles and think to yourself, "I’m in perfect health, but I guess I’ll do that blood test anyway, since I’m already here." You survive the needle, go home with a band aid on your arm, and forget about the whole thing. A few days later, you receive a call from the doctor's office giving you the news -- your cholesterol is so elevated that the doctor wants to see you in person to discuss it.
You beg the receptionist to squeeze you in the following week for an appointment, while sweating bullets because you are afraid you're going to literally drop dead at any moment due to plaque build-up in your blood vessels. Finally, the day of the appointment arrives and the doctor tells you that you have two choices:
1. Lose weight, exercise, and change your diet in a significant way
2. Start taking a cholesterol-lowering medication
What?! A pill?! You hate pills. In fact, you’re not even sure you can swallow them. Sure, you know that you may have put on a few extra pounds, and you’ve stopped exercising since the birth of your twins…16 years ago. But thankfully, you haven’t needed a pill until now. Plus, you’ve heard all kinds of hoopla over the cholesterol medications and you are deathly afraid of those, too. What to do? How do you opt for option number 1 – you haven’t got the first clue where to start lowering your cholesterol on your own without medications? Well, let’s learn about some strategies you can implement on your own to lower your cholesterol in today’s episode.
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What Is Cholesterol?
When your doctor orders a “cholesterol test,” she’s looking for a few numbers:
- LDL: Your “bad” cholesterol, the one that is notoriously known to be associated with heart disease if left untreated over a long period of time. (So you can relax now, you are not going to drop dead today). For most healthy people without diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, the LDL goal is less than 130.
- HDL: Your “good” cholesterol. Exercise and weight loss helps increase this number (you want it to be as high as possible, preferably over 40).
- Triglycerides: This is another type of “bad” cholesterol that tends to be elevated in people who consume high fat or high carbohydrate diets. The goal for most adults is less than 150.
- Total Cholesterol: A combination of both your good and bad cholesterol
Why care about your cholesterol?