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"What are the best ways to lower cholesterol?"
My dad found out that he has high cholesterol. I want to help him stay healthy. What are the best and easiest ways to lower your cholesterol? Is it all about diet and what you eat?
The reason that doctors care so much about cholesterol is because of the negative effects of high cholesterol on cardiovascular health. And consequently, the first step in managing high cholesterol is to look at other risk factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, etc. and make sure these are also being addressed. The next steps are both the least expensive and the most important: diet and exercise. Your father should try to cut down meat consumption, especially red or processed meat, but there are plenty of non-meat foods that he should also be careful of. In general saturated fat and cholesterol travel together. Here is a list of foods he should attempt to limit: egg yolks, cheese, ice cream, store-bought baked goods, and foods high in trans fats (not the same as cholesterol, but very bad for your heart health). Though I feel like a broken record saying this he should increase his consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lean meats like fish and poultry. Though most people are concerned simply with the “bad” cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol is also important, and exercise has an effect on both. Multiple studies have attempted to answer how much and what intensity of exercise is needed to achieve a benefit. It appears that approximately 120 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is sufficient to have beneficial effects. What type of exercise is the best? My general answer is any exercise that he really enjoys. No matter how good any exercise is for him, if he doesn’t enjoy it he probably won’t be able to stick with it. Examples of good exercises include brisk walks, swimming laps, or exercise classes such as spinning or cardio classes. Diet and exercise alone can sometimes be enough to bring cholesterol levels into line. If these don’t work, then the next step is usually medicines such as statins. His primary care physician or cardiologist can best discuss his cholesterol to help him meet his goals. Good luck!
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