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Tips for Managing Your Cholesterol

According to the CDC, more than 102 million individuals in America have cholesterol levels above healthy levels, which means that they are at increased risk for developing heart disease or suffering a stroke. Thankfully, high cholesterol isn’t a chronic condition and can be easily addressed and reversed through a few simple lifestyle changes.

Understand the different kinds of fat

It’s easy to assume that all fats are bad fats, but that’s not actually the case. When trying to lower or manage your cholesterol levels, there are three different types of fat to keep in mind. Saturated fats, which are most commonly found in red meat and dairy products, can raise your cholesterol. Trans fats, which are common in store-bought cookies, snack cakes and margarine, contribute so much to health concerns, including elevated cholesterol levels, that the FDA placed a ban on them that’s set to begin on January 1, 2021. The third “good fat” can be found in anything rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, avocados and certain kinds of nuts.

Switch to lean meats

Everybody loves a beautifully marbled steak, but the fat that causes that pattern can negatively impact your cholesterol. Generally speaking, two of the best lean meats are skinless chicken or turkey, both of which can be bought ground for dishes like chili or tacos. If you’re determined not to give up red meat altogether, you can find 90 percent — or more — lean ground beef at most grocery stores. On the bright side, pork loins are high in protein and contain very little saturated fat. The best thing to do may be to reduce your overall red meat intake in favor of fish like salmon.

Increase your physical activity

It makes sense that exercising more is good for the heart, but it’s less fun than eating a well-cooked salmon fillet with avocado salsa. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to get active. You can always go the traditional route of joining a gym or setting up an exercise regimen of your own, but consider including an exercise buddy or significant other to help keep you motivated. On the other hand, there are dozens of smartphone apps designed to help you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be. Some even let you practice simple but effective exercises from the comfort of your own home.

Quit smoking and drink in moderation

Leaving cigarettes in the past can have an immediate, potentially life-saving effect on your overall health, including cholesterol levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, your blood pressure can recover from a cigarette-induced spike in as little as 20 minutes from your last smoke, and your risk of heart disease can be reduced by half within a year. Similarly, having more than one or two drinks a day can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes. If you have high cholesterol, you’re already at a higher risk for those health issues, and compounding the two can have serious consequences.

Consider medication

Medication may not be everybody’s first choice — and it shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for healthy living — but sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. If you’re concerned about your cholesterol and think you may need prescription medicine, consult your family doctor or another healthcare professional.

Having high cholesterol can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few easy changes to your habits, you’ll have your cholesterol in check in no time.

This article is presented by Jack Demmer Lincoln.
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