Have you watched your cholesterol levels creep up as you’ve gotten older? It’s possible, because cholesterol tends to increase with age.
Age is a risk factor you can’t control. The same goes for family history and ethnicity.
But here’s the good news: There are other cholesterol risk factors you can control. That is important because this artery-clogging fat can lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
Cholesterol by the numbers
Here are the cholesterol levels you want to aim for:
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
- LDL, or “bad cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL, or “good” cholesterol: 60 mg/dL or higher
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL
What you can do
Take these steps to help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range:
Choose a heart-healthy diet: Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and high-fiber foods such as lentils and beans. Limit saturated fat, which comes from meat, dairy products and tropical oils. And stay away from trans fats. That may mean passing on many baked goods, snack foods and fried foods.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can raise your bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Exercise: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. (Tip: try brisk walking or taking a bike ride.)
Don’t smoke: Cigarette smoking can lower HDL, or “good” cholesterol. It also speeds up the hardening of the arteries caused by high cholesterol and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. Find out more about how to quit smoking here.
Drink in moderation: Too much alcohol can raise the triglyceride levels in your blood. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women one.
Is your cholesterol within a healthy range? Contact your provider or reach out to a Providence provider if you have questions about your cholesterol levels.