• While you can't literally flush
    cholesterol out of your arteries
    as you would clear a clogged
    drain, you may be able to reduce
    cholesterol levels by making a
    few key lifestyle changes. When
    you reduce low-density
    lipoprotein levels and total
    cholesterol, you lessen the risk of
    dangerous plaque buildup on
    your artery walls. This plaque
    increases your chance of heart
    attack and stroke, which is why
    controlling your cholesterol could
    help save your life.
    Fill Up on Fiber
    One way to help lower
    cholesterol levels is to include
    more fiber in your diet. Fiber --
    particularly soluble fiber -- binds
    with fatty acids and is shown to
    reduce LDL cholesterol as well as
    total cholesterol. Get soluble fiber
    from oatmeal, beans, peas, nuts
    and flax seeds. Although no
    specific daily recommendations
    for soluble fiber exist, the
    publication, "Dietary Guidelines
    for Americans, 2010" advises
    eating 14 grams of total fiber per
    1,000 calories, or 28 grams in a
    2,000-calorie diet.
    Say No to Saturated Fat
    Saturated fat is linked to high
    cholesterol levels, so reduce your
    intake to help protect your heart.
    Saturated fat is found in animal
    products such as butter,
    hamburgers, poultry skin,
    marbled steaks, sausage, ribs
    and full-fat cheeses, as well as
    some plant foods such as palm
    oil. Also look out for saturated
    fats in pastries, cakes and
    chocolate candy, which may be
    high in milk fats. Healthier fat
    sources include nuts, avocados,
    olive oil and most vegetable oils.
    Avoid hydrogenated vegetable
    oil, however, as it contains
    cholesterol-spiking trans fats.
    Lose Weight
    If you're overweight or obese,
    you're more likely to have
    unhealthy cholesterol levels.
    Losing weight can reverse this
    effect, according to the Centers
    for Disease Control and
    Prevention. Achieve weight loss
    by reducing portion sizes and
    eating filling, low-calorie foods
    such as fresh fruits and
    vegetables, broth-based soups,
    brown rice and whole-grain
    bread. Also choose lean proteins,
    which satisfy with fewer calories
    than fatty meats and cheeses.
    Lean examples include beans,
    tofu, water-packed tuna and egg
    whites. As you reduce calories,
    increase exercise to help burn
    more calories than you eat -- the
    key to successful weight loss.
    Get Tested
    While lifestyle changes are
    important for cholesterol
    management, nothing is a
    replacement for proper medical
    care and cholesterol-lowering
    medications when needed. To
    ensure proper diagnosis and
    treatment, the American Heart
    Association recommends that all
    adults over 20 have their
    cholesterol checked every five
    years. If you have high LDL or
    total cholesterol levels, low HDL
    cholesterol levels or increased
    risk of heart disease or stroke,
    more frequent testing is
    necessary. Men over 45, as well
    as women over 50, also need
    more frequent cholesterol tests.
    Some people, despite their best
    efforts to change their diets, lose
    weight and get more exercise
    will need more help lowering
    their cholesterol. Don't ignore
    persistently high cholesterol if
    you've made these changes. See
    your physician. You might need
    Stop smoking. Cigarettes raise
    triglycerides, a fatty substance
    found in the bloodstream that's
    related to cholesterol. Cigarettes
    also lower your good cholesterol.
    Quitting can help you reverse any
    ill effects.


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