Cholesterol (Lipid Management): What You Need To Know
Once a year you should be getting your cholesterol checked. Unfortunately, if you hear that you have high cholesterol you may immediately picture clogged arteries or worry about a heart attack. While many doctors may rush to put you on cholesterol medicine, integrative medicine takes a different approach to help you lead a healthier life with a healthier heart.
Get the Right Cholesterol Test
The standard cholesterol tests that most general practitioners perform only check total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”), HDL (“good”), and triglycerides but these tests don’t tell us everything we actually need to know. In fact, we know that about half of people who have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol. So, what type of test should you be getting? A particle size test, which checks the particle number and size of the LDL and HDL cholesterol is needed. By knowing the number and size of the particles we can more accurately determine your true heart disease risk.
Your Insulin Should be Checked, Too!
If your cholesterol test tells us that you have small LDL and HDL particles, then you could also have diabetes. This is why it’s also important to do a glucose and insulin test to check blood sugar levels. While your blood sugar should be checked at least once a year regardless, if your particle size test reveals a high heart disease risk then we may also recommend testing your hemoglobin A1C levels, as well.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Food is medicine and what you eat can provide your body with the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants it needs to keep your heart and the rest of your body functioning optimally. Of course, the standard American diet is filled with junk and processed foods, preservative-filled red meats, and sugar. By avoiding these things and eating a more Mediterranean diet filled with wild-caught fish, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats (e.g. avocado; olive oil), you can protect your heart, reduce cholesterol, and start feeling better.
Exercise is Crucial
Another thing we will always recommend is for our patients to get more exercise. So many people lead sedentary lifestyles, most of it due to work. We aren’t meant to sit for hours on end at a desk. People must be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, at the very least. Obviously, a combination of weight training, cardio, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is ideal for strengthening and improving your heart health and lowering cholesterol.