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Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent High Cholesterol?

There Are Many Things You Can Do to Lower Your Risk


Updated February 01, 2013

Even if you haven't been diagnosed with it yet, there are many things you can do to prevent high cholesterol -- and lower your risk of heart disease.

Typically, you won't know that you have high cholesterol levels until you get a blood test that includes your lipid panel. Allowing your cholesterol levels to remain unchecked may lead to a variety of complications, including coronary heart disease and possibly death. Prevention is one of your most important weapons in the fight against high cholesterol levels and heart disease. What can you do to prevent high cholesterol levels? Taking an inventory of your lifestyle and keeping in mind the following tips can help you to a healthy heart:

Obtain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight not only places you at risk of not fitting into your clothes, it also can raise your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and lower your HDL ("good" cholesterol). This combination is a perfect recipe for the development of heart disease. It doesn't take long before you see the healthy results. In fact, if you are obese, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight will show a modest improvement in your cholesterol levels. There are plenty of diets and recipesthat can help you achieve a healthy weight.

Get Physical

Moderate exercise (about 30 minutes five times a week) reduces LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. You don't have to be a triathelete or have a gym membership to get exercise -- there are many studies that suggest even brisk walking will help to lower your cholesterol levels. There are a lot sites on the internet out there to help you find an exercise program that is right for you.

Watch What You Eat

Eat healthy by including lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein in your diet. Limit your consumption of meats, pastries, cookies and snack foods.

Pay Attention to Your Medications

Some drugs might either directly cause your cholesterol levels to increase or decrease. So if you are placed on a new medication, be sure to ask your physician if it may affect your cholesterol levels. If there is a risk that the medication will raise your cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor about the possibility of an alternative. If there is no alternative, make sure you have a good plan to monitor your lipid levels.

Stop Smoking

Smoking lowers HDL, increases oxidized LDL, and accelerates the growth of atherosclerosis, all of which predispose you to coronary heart disease. The good news is that your risk of heart disease may be reversed if you quit now.


Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Heath: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Goldstein DJ.Beneficial health effects of modest weight loss. Int J Obes. 1992, 16:397-415.

Dattilo AM, Kris-Etherton PM. Effects of weight reduction on blood lipids and lipoproteins: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 1992; 56:320-328.

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