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Stroke Smart Magazine


September/October 2008
PREVENTION

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Apply TLC to Lower Cholesterol
6 Things You Can Do Today


By Christy Bailey

September is Cholesterol Education Month the perfect time to start managing your  cholesterol. This is important because cholesterol can clog arteries, reducing blood flow to  your brain and possibly causing a stroke.


Many of the 65 million Americans with high cholesterol have no symptoms. That’s why it is important to get your cholesterol checked by your doctor. Ideally, you want your total  cholesterol to be less than 200 mg/dL, LDL (the bad cholesterol) less than 100, and HDL (the good cholesterol) of 60 or more.


If you have high cholesterol, you can take steps to lower it. According to the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute, many people are able to lower their cholesterol levels with TLC, or Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, a program of diet, exercise, and weight management.


To start your TLC program today:

  • Reduce the saturated fat in your diet. High amounts of saturated fat are found in butter, whole milk, cheese, coconut oil, and animal products such as chicken skin and fatty cuts of meat. By decreasing saturated fat to less than seven percent of your daily calorie intake, you may reduce your LDL by 10 percent.
  • Limit high-cholesterol foods, such as liver, egg yolks, shrimp, and full-fat dairy products. By decreasing dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day, you may reduce your LDL by five percent.
  • Lose extra pounds if you are overweight. A loss of 10 pounds can contribute to an eight- percent decrease in LDL.
  • Add five to 10 grams of soluble fiber to your diet per day, and you may lower your LDL by five percent. Eating foods rich in fiber can help you feel full on fewer calories, which can help you lose weight. High-fiber foods include oatmeal, dried beans, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Add two grams per day of plant stanols and sterols, and you may lower your LDL up to 15 percent often within weeks. Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in grains, vegetables, fruits, dried beans, nuts, and seeds. They can also be found in foods such as margarine, orange juice, cereals, and even granola bars.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week. Even a little activity a brisk walk, bicycle ride, swim, or yard work can help. Short on time? Try three 10-minute segments per day. Regular exercise can raise HDL and help you lose weight and, in that way, help lower your LDL. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Some people may need to treat high cholesterol with medicine. Studies have shown that cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may be effective in reducing the risk of stroke.  Several other types of cholesterol-lowering drugs are also available.


Using the TLC program can help you manage your cholesterol, improve your health, and lower your risk for another stroke.




  

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