Tips to Control Your Cholesterol
Basic habits can help you reduce your risk of heart disease
High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. However, you can lower your high cholesterol and improve your health by adopting some of these lifestyle changes.
Ask your doctor what changes you need to make, but expect their advice to include tips like these:
Eat less fat
A healthy goal is to have less than 20-35% of your daily calories come from fat. Instead of fats, eat more fruits, grains, and vegetables. There are different kinds of fats in foods. The best fats to choose are unsaturated fats. But fats are high in calories, so eat even unsaturated fats sparingly. Try your best to limit the following:
Fatty cuts of meat (lamb, ham, beef)
Many pastries, cakes, cookies, and candies
Cream, ice cream, sour cream, cheese, and butter, and foods made with them
Sauces made with butter or cream
Salad dressings with saturated fats
Foods that contain palm or coconut oil
Try new cooking methods
To eat less fat, you may need to learn some new ways to cook. But that doesn't mean you should eat bland, boring food. It doesn't mean spending more time cooking.
Here are tips for cooking and seasoning foods with less fat:
Broil, roast, bake, steam, or microwave fish, chicken, turkey, and meat
Remove skin from chicken and turkey and trim extra fat from meat before cooking
Sprinkle herbs on meat, chicken, and fish, and in soups
Cook in broth instead of fat
Use nonstick cooking sprays or nonstick pans
To flavor beans and rice, add chopped onions, garlic, and peppers
Chill soups and stews. Before reheating and serving, skim off the fat
When you add fat, use canola or olive oil instead of butter or lard
Take medications the right way
There are different kinds of medications to help with cholesterol levels. Some help to lower your LDL (bad cholesterol). Some help raise your HDL (good cholesterol). And some do both. It may take time to find the right medication for you, but once you do, it's important to take it the right way.
Tell your doctor about any other medications you take. This includes over-the-counter medications, as well as vitamins and herbs
Take your medication exactly as directed. This helps ensure that it works as it should
Do not skip a dose
Do not stop taking it if you feel better
Do not stop taking it when your cholesterol numbers improve
Order your refill before your medication runs out
Check, track, and share your progress
Blood tests check how much cholesterol you have in your blood. You need to get checked regularly and as often as your health care provider says. As you make changes to your diet and lifestyle, your numbers will change slowly.
With a registered My HealtheVet account, Veterans can record their cholesterol levels online using the Track Health feature. There you can view your progress, as well as share cholesterol information with your health care team.
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High Cholesterol: Numbers, Risks, and Tasty Alternatives
Controlling Your Cholesterol (Veterans Health Library)
Seven Steps to Prevent Heart Disease
Five Steps to a Healthier Heart
Updated June 28, 2021