Doctors get high cholesterol, too. Want to know what they’re doing, that you might not be? Here are the heart-healthy tips from doctors in-the-know.
Eat foods high in magnesium
Studies indicate that a diet high in magnesium, can help keep bad cholesterol in check. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, heart health expert, and author of Atrial Fibrillation: Remineralize Your Heart, is a firm believer in this little-touted, cholesterol buster. Magnesium works as a natural calcium channel blocker, acts as a statin to lower bad cholesterol, and improves heart health without the side-effects of cholesterol-reducing drugs, she says. When a person has a magnesium deficiency it can lead to angina, heart arrhythmia, and even heart attacks, she explains. Here are 10 signs you’re not getting enough magnesium.
Keep your motivation up
Keeping your eyes on the (healthy you) prize can help, says Eliot A. Brinton, MD, FAHA, FNLA, president of Utah Lipid Center. “Wake up every morning with a positive thought. Ask yourself what is keeping you motivated. Maybe it’s a loved one, or a personal goal you’ve set for yourself,” he says. Every day, reaffirm to yourself why you are committed to your heart health.”
Watch your sugar
You probably already know that too much sugar in the diet can cause diabetes, but did you know that it also raises cholesterol? “I try to adhere to a plant-based diet, with a moderate amount of protein,” explains Manfred Sandler, MD, a cardiologist at CardioVascular Group, in Atlanta. “I definitely try to avoid white, starchy carbohydrates, and processed sugars. This type of diet not only keeps your cholesterol and triglycerides in order, it can help keep your weight down,” Here are 13 easy food swaps to reduce your sugar intake.
Eat a high-fiber diet
Soluble fiber can reduce low-density lipid cholesterol, aka the LDL or “bad cholesterol, your doctor keeps warning you about. “Choose foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts,” suggests Dr. Brinton. The Mayo Clinic recommends aiming for five to ten grams daily. Here are 30 ways to get more fiber in your diet without even trying.
If you think you have to be a gym rat to lower cholesterol, think again. Howard Eisen, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiology at Drexel University College of Medicine, uses a stationary bike, to stay active. “I encourage my patients to walk for two miles in 45 minutes. Even walking around the mall in cold winter months, can do the trick,” he says. Aim for at least two and a half hours of aerobic exercise every week.
Choose the right statin
When it comes to cholesterol-lowering medications, it’s important to know your options, says Dr. Brinton.”There are seven statins, and each one is different. If you are doing poorly on one, ask your doctor about switching. Remember that he or she can’t help you fix a statin-related problem, unless you speak up,” he says. Statins vary in cost, effectiveness, and side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, statin-related problems include digestive issues, muscle pain, and fuzzy thinking. Here are some drug-free ways to lower your cholesterol you should know about.
Say no to second helpings
If you marvel at your cardiologist’s svelte form, this may be why: When it comes to food, portion size counts. If you routinely go back for more of anything, other than veggies sans-dressing, you may be eating too much, and upping your cholesterol (and weight) to boot. “Don’t eat more calories than you need. The best way to do that is to watch portion size, and don’t have second helpings. If you eat too much, you will never maintain a healthy, low weight, regardless of how much you exercise,” says Dr. Brinton. Take this portion distortion quiz, and you’ll never have to guess about the right serving size again.
Consider going vegan
When it comes to lowering cholesterol, if you love vegetables, you may be halfway home. Vegetarian and vegan diets are more than just hype, says Shalini Bobra, MD, a cardiologist with White Plains Hospital Medical and Wellness in Armonk and the Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care. “With all the new research on how a healthy diet can reverse the threat of heart problems, I recommend, and follow, a diet rich in plant-based, unprocessed foods. These have been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce necessary medications, and leave patients feeling better, overall,” These 14 vegetarian dinner recipes will turn even the most dedicated red meat fan into a veggie lover in no time.
Stop smoking already
As reported in 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), less than two percent of doctors smoked cigarettes… and probably, even less are smoking now. The sad truth is, doctors see the damage cigarette smoking does every single day. According to WebMD, cigarette smoking lowers HDL, the good type of cholesterol you want, and increases your overall risk of coronary artery disease, It is quite possibly the number one worst thing you can do to your health (not to mention your looks, your teeth, and your body odor). “Even one cigarette a day increases heart disease and stroke risk,” says Dr. Brinton.
A diet high in omega 3 fatty acids is many cardiologists’ secret weapon against high cholesterol. Following a food plan, such as the Mediterranean diet, is a great way to ensure you get plenty of this essential fatty acid in the correct ratio to omega 6 fatty acid, another health booster. According to doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega 3s raise good cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Here are tricks that make your diet more Mediterranean.