Considering cholesterol

Quitting smoking is one way to help battle cholesterol.

Quitting smoking is one way to help battle cholesterol.

It’s less about the numbers: That’s the crux of the new cholesterol guidelines aimed at preventing heart disease and stroke.

Released late last year by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, the guidelines instead focus on risk factors, not just cholesterol levels, when determining who should be treated with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Besides high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol (190 mg/dL or more), doctors will also consider if you have heart disease, are middle-aged with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or are between 40 and 75 years old with a 7.5 percent or higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.

Besides statins, lifestyle changes can help manage cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are four recommendations:


Adding about a three-quarter cup of these or other legumes to your daily diet may help cut levels of bad LDL cholesterol by about 5 percent, according a recent review of 26 studies.

Lowering levels by that amount suggests a potential 5 percent reduced risk of heart disease, researchers say. Most important, however, is to focus your overall diet on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish and nuts.


Working in 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, three to four times a week, can help lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

As always, before starting any new exercise, talk to your doctor.


It may help improve good, HDL cholesterol, the Mayo Clinic says. Stubbing the habit also decreases blood pressure within 20 minutes and reduces the risk of heart attack within a day.


Losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can help reduce cholesterol levels (for a 180-pound person,that’s a 9-pound weight loss).

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