Dear Dr. Terri K: My doctor just told me that my cholesterol is high. Now that I’m in my 40s, I’m trying to pay more attention to my health – especially since my father had a stroke when he was in his 50s. I rather not rely on medicine the rest of my life. What can I do to get my cholesterol down? – RAY
Ray: First, congratulations for wanting to take control of your health. The key is to start small and be consistent. Here are some basic lifestyle suggestions:
Cut down on foods high in saturated and trans fats – Limit your intake of whole milk, butter, ice cream, egg yolks, cheese, fried foods, high-fat processed meats such as sausage, saturated oils like palm oil and solid fats like shortening. Use unsaturated vegetable oils such as canola, olive and safflower.
Focus on lean, whole foods – Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Since cholesterol is in all foods from animal sources, use fat-free and low-fat dairy products and aim to eat no more than six ounces of lean meat, fatty fish and poultry without skin per day. High-quality proteins from vegetable sources such as beans are good substitutes for animal sources of protein.
Eat strategically – Serve smaller portions of higher fat dishes, and serve bigger portions of lower fat dishes such as brown rice, beans and vegetables. Snack with fruits and limited amounts of nuts and seeds.
Read the labels – Look for the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and total calories in a serving of the product. Also check how much a serving is. Choose products where fats and oils appear later in the ingredient listing.
Make water your drink of choice – Keep hydrated with filtered water. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you drink coffee, begin to drink green tea as a substitute.
Get moving – Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times per week to improve your general health and lose weight. Go for a walk. Take a friend dancing. Do some yard work. Regular physical activity increases HDL (good) cholesterol in some people.
Honor your body. Today, take control of your health. Use the power of choice to change your lifestyle. You can make it happen. Start Power Living® today!
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.
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