A staggering 95 million Americans live with high cholesterol. That’s not a good thing, since the condition is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes — all very serious conditions.
Treatment of high cholesterol is one of Dr. Gurprit Sekhon’s specialties. She and her caring team at Nu Wave Medical Center are committed to helping you manage your cholesterol to support your overall health, and educating you about lifestyle changes you can make to improve your cholesterol readings. They also provide a host of other services.
What you should know about your cholesterol
Your cholesterol numbers consist of two readings, your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, and your high-density (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol.
As you’d expect, you want lower numbers for your LDL cholesterol and higher ones for your HDL. High LDL levels contribute to unhealthy plaque accumulation in your arteries, while high HDL levels are protective and help move cholesterol from your arteries to your liver in preparation for excretion.
There’s also a third type you may not have heard of. It’s called very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, which is also harmful because it encourages plaque buildup on your artery walls by delivering not one, but two types of fat: cholesterol and triglycerides.
A healthy cholesterol reading is one where your LDL is 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or less, your HDL is 50 mg/dL or higher, and your triglycerides are lower than 150 mg/dL.
Your total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL
We often highlight the importance of lowering your bad cholesterol by eating high-fiber foods, lots of fruit and veggies, and limiting certain animal products that contain a lot of saturated fat, known to raise your LDL cholesterol. Ditto for products with high levels of trans fats.
Your body manufactures all the LDL cholesterol you need, so large amounts of extra LDL aren’t what you want to be eating.
In addition to concentrating on lowering your bad cholesterol, you might wonder about what you can eat to increase your good cholesterol.
How can I get a higher good cholesterol number through diet?
Fortunately, there are easy and delicious ways to incorporate foods into your diet that actually raise your HDL cholesterol, including:
- Legumes, such as chickpeas, many types of beans, and green peas
- Olive oil
- Whole grains, such as bran cereal and brown rice
- Fatty fish rich in omega-3 acids, including mackerel, salmon, and sardines
- Nuts, including almonds, peanuts, and pistachios
- Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- Chia seeds
- Soy foods like edamame and tofu
All of these foods are easy to prepare and fit into your everyday diet easily. You can throw chia seeds and ground flaxseed into smoothies, snack on a handful of nuts, make tofu and veggie kabobs, enjoy bean burritos with guacamole, and more.
In addition to dietary changes, keeping your weight in check, exercising regularly, refraining from smoking, and limiting your alcohol consumption can all serve to improve your HDL levels. We can help you with weight loss too, since we offer a medically supervised weight loss program.
You have lots of power when it comes to improving your cholesterol, but if your readings continue to be challenging, Dr. Sekhon can offer medications that help get your cholesterol where it should be.
Don’t hesitate to call the Nu Wave Medical Center office to schedule an appointment for a conversation about your cholesterol, or book one online.