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Lower High Cholesterol With Diet & Exercise

What is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a disease characterized by excess amounts of fat in the bloodstream. Excess cholesterol in the blood can make it difficult for blood to pass through the system efficiently, which can increase an individual’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol typically produces no symptoms and is only detected and diagnosed through testing of the blood. A common problem in the world today, this condition is both hereditary and caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Treatments for high cholesterol can often vary on an individual basis. For example, some patients require medication in order to keep cholesterol at manageable levels; for others, diet and regular exercise can keep cholesterol under control. The following describes the effectiveness of medication, high cholesterol diets, hdl cholesterol diets and exercise in the treatment of this condition.

How is High Cholesterol Diagnosed?

Since high cholesterol produces no symptoms whatsoever, regular testing is imperative in preventing heart disease, heart attacks and other dangerous complications. Diagnostic procedures for this condition involve a test called a lipid panel, which detects and measures amounts of various fats, or lipids, in the bloodstream. A lipid panel collects information regarding amounts of the following types of fats in the blood: total cholesterol, triglycerides, hdl, or “good,” cholesterol and ldl, or “bad,” cholesterol.

Treatment Methods

When medication is required in the treatment of high cholesterol, the following types of drugs are commonly prescribed []:

These drugs are among the most common used to treat high cholesterol. Statins work by blocking the liver’s production of cholesterol, as well as by helping the body to absorb excess lipids in the blood.

Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
These medications help to flush excess dietary cholesterol from the body before it has the chance to build up in the bloodstream.

Prescribed to patients with high triglycerides, fibrates speed up the body’s removal of triglyceride lipids.

Omega-3 Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are available either by prescription or over the counter. These supplements reduce cholesterol on their own or when taken in conjunction with certain prescription medications. Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, help remove plaque buildup in the arteries and promote healthy heart rhythms.

High Cholesterol Diets

In many cases, cholesterol can be effectively treated without medication. This is done through a heart-healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercise. A cholesterol-lowering, heart-healthy diet includes foods like the following

  • Fruits and vegetables. These foods contain disease-fighting antioxidants and are loaded with dietary fiber. The fiber found in these foods helps the body to flush out excess fat before it can affect cholesterol levels. Filling up on fruits and veggies can also prevent unhealthy snacking, which can go a long way in treating and preventing high cholesterol. These types of foods are also essential in raising hdl cholesterol with diet.
  • Whole grains. Like fruits and vegetables, whole grains contain high amounts of cholesterol-reducing dietary fiber. Whole grains are also filling, provide lasting energy and are lower in fat and calories than starchy carbohydrates.
  • Legumes. In high cholesterol diets, legumes like beans, seeds and nuts serve the purpose of providing protein without high amounts of fat. Eating legumes instead of the fatty protein found in beef, pork and eggs is often recommended. When it comes to meat, lean, unprocessed cuts of chicken and fish are preferred.
  • Unsaturated fats. To decrease bad cholesterol while increasing hdl cholesterol with diet, healthy fats are essential. Unlike butter or animal fat, the unsaturated fats found in olive, peanut and canola oils will not clog arteries and are therefore safe for patients with high cholesterol. Other heart-healthy fats include cholesterol-reducing omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to being available in supplement form, omega-3 fatty acids are also found in foods like salmon, sardines and tuna.
  • Reduced sodium. Salt can make blood pressure skyrocket, which has a negative impact on the heart and health in general. Instead of using salt, patients with high blood pressure or other heart conditions are encouraged to experiment with other types of low-sodium seasonings and spices.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to a heart-healthy diet, making positive lifestyle changes is vital in the treatment of high cholesterol. Regular exercise, for example, can raise good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce blood pressure and strengthen the heart. Patients with high cholesterol are encouraged to perform moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, biking or swimming, at least three times per week.

Quitting smoking is another healthy lifestyle choice that can both prevent and treat high cholesterol. Quitting reduces the risks associated with heart disease and high blood pressure while increasing life expectancy and overall health.

While a diagnosis of high cholesterol may be frightening, this condition can be treated effectively with medication and healthy lifestyle choices. In addition, regular testing can provide peace of mind as well as prevent a worsening of this condition and its complication. In order to protect health, cholesterol testing should be performed every five years, no matter an individual’s age, risk factors or overall health.

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