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Tips for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels

You've just returned from that dreaded doctor's appointment. The news isn't surprising – you have high cholesterol levels and you've been told that you need to lower your cholesterol. You know the dangers of high cholesterol and now it's time to do something about it. It's best to speak with a healthcare professional to get their advice about how to tackle your cholesterol problems. They'll be able to provide you with individualized tips that can help you reach your target levels.

Here are some general bits of advice on maintaining a low level of cholesterol:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise almost every day of the week.
  • Decrease your trans fat and saturated fat intake. Avoid all high cholesterol foods.
  • Make sure you're eating enough whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • A diet that's high in soluble fiber can help. Try foods like Brussels sprouts, pears, apples, oatmeal and barley.
  • Eat walnuts and almonds, but be sure to eat these nuts in moderation since they're also high in calories.
  • A diet that includes fish might be helpful. Try to eat fish that's high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Some experts say that eating soy could help lower cholesterol.
  • Limit your intake of fried foods. Try steaming, broiling or baking food instead.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Don't drink excessively.
  • Some experts claim that certain vitamins can lower cholesterol. For example, Niacin is a B-complex vitamin that might help, but it's important to look into possible side effects before taking any vitamin. Be sure to speak to your doctor.
  • Prescription medication might also help lower your cholesterol.

Have your doctor test your cholesterol, especially if:

  • Coronary heart disease or stroke runs in your family.
  • You're a woman and your waist is more than 35 inches.
  • You're a man and your waist is more than 40 inches.
  • You're a woman over 50 or you are post-menopausal.
  • You're a man over 40.
  • You have any of the following conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
  • You're a smoker, or you have recently quit smoking.
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