Managing your cholesterol

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1 Managing your cholesterol

2 Understanding and managing your cholesterol is one of the keys to leading a healthy lifestyle. If your cholesterol is high, you re at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. But learning about your numbers and making healthy changes may help you to lower it. Understanding your cholesterol levels A cholesterol test, also known as a lipid profile, is made of these four numbers: 1. LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) Also known as bad cholesterol, LDL carries cholesterol to tissues in the body. If LDL is high, it can cause a fatty buildup in the arteries called artherosclerosis. Goal: Less than 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) 2. HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) Also known as good cholesterol, HDL carries cholesterol away from the tissues. High levels of HDL mean that large amounts of cholesterol are being carried away from the artery walls to the liver and then turned into waste. Goal: 60 mg/dl or greater *Note: A HDL level is considered low when it's less than 40 mg/dl for men or less than 50 mg/dl for women. 3. Triglycerides Triglycerides are fatty substance in the blood. High levels can thicken your artery walls and put you at a higher risk for stroke and heart attack. Goal: Less than 150 mg/dl 4. Total Cholesterol Total cholesterol is an estimate of the total amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Goal: Less than 200 mg/dl Every person is unique. Your doctor may suggest different levels or goals for your cholesterol numbers based on your history or risk for heart or other diseases. 1 2

3 What can you do to improve cholesterol? Now that you know what each cholesterol type means and the standard goals, let's see how you can make a difference. Read on to learn about ways you may be able to improve cholesterol. Make smart swaps. Making simple substitutions in your diet can make it easier to lead a healthy lifestyle. Use this helpful chart to make some healthful swaps during your next trip to the grocery store. Healthy change LDL HDL Triglycerides Category High-fat option Healthier swap 1. Eat well 2. Move more 3. Lose weight 4. Quit smoking 5. Take medicine Meat 80% lean ground beef Deep-fried seafood Dark chicken or turkey meat 97% lean ground beef or ground turkey Grilled or broiled salmon, tuna, tilapia or shrimp White chicken or turkey meat without skin Healthy change 1: Eat well. Making healthy food choices is one of the best ways to improve your cholesterol. It can seem to be easier said than done. But small changes can add up. Know the terms. Knowing the meaning of these terms may help you to better understand your options and make smart choices at the grocery store. Reduced or Less: Contains 25 percent less of a nutrient such as fat or salt than the original version. Low: Contains a small amount of a certain nutrient. Free: Has none of a certain nutrient, or an amount that s too small to measure. Just because the product is labeled free or reduced doesn t always mean it s the healthier choice. Compare the altered version to the original to see if unhealthy ingredients such as sugar were added. Dairy products Sweets and snacks Butter Bacon or sausage Whole or 2% milk or milk products High-fat and/or high-calorie yogurt A brownie with chocolate frosting Potato chips and dip A handful of crackers Chocolate chip cookies Regular stick butter Ham* Fat-free, lor low-fat milk or milk products Low-fat or fat-free yogurt Apples with fat-free caramel dip Raw vegetables and fat-free dip or hummus A handful of nuts or seeds Your favorite raw or dried fruits Trans-fat free liquid or tub margarine 3 *High salt content, keep portion size small. 4

4 Make sense of labels. Learning how to read food labels can help you to make healthier choices. While grocery shopping, be sure to bring your healthy swaps list (found on page 4) and compare food labels along the way. Choosing foods lower in calories, saturated and trans fats can help you better manage your cholesterol. Nutrition Facts Serving Size: 8 oz. Serving Per Container: 2 Amount Per Serving Calories from fat 80 Calories 150 % Daily Value* Total Fat 8g 12% Saturated Fat 5g 25% Monounsaturated Fat 2.5g Polyunsaturated Fat 0g Trans Fat 0g Cholesterol 35mg 12% Sodium 120mg 5% Potassium 380mg 11% Total Carbohydrate 12g 4% Dietary Fiber 0g 0% Sugars 11g Protein 8g 16% *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your needs. Choose the right fats. When it comes to improving your cholesterol, not all fats are created equal. It s important to be aware of bad fats and good fats in your diet. Bad fats Try to eat less of these. 1 Saturated fats These fats raise total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. 2 Trans fats Created from partially hydrogenated liquid oils, trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels. 3 Cholesterol This waxy, fat-like substance is found in all parts of the body, and eating too much of it can lead to heart disease. Unsaturated fats These fats can be good for you when eaten in moderation. Unsaturated fats come in two forms: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. 4 Polyunsaturated fats These fats may lower LDL and total cholesterol. 5 Monounsaturated fats These fats may increase HDL cholesterol. They may also lower LDL and total cholesterol. Sources of bad fats: Fried fast foods Good fats Choose these more often. Sweets: cookies, cake, brownies Packaged foods: frozen dinners, ice cream, rising crust pizza, frozen pies and desserts, potato chips, microwave popcorn Dairy products: eggs, whole milk, cheese Certain oils: coconut oil, palm oil and vegetable shortening Fatty meats: sausage, marbled beef, skin-on chicken or turkey, and bacon Sources of good fats: Plant oils: olive, soybean, corn, sunflower and canola Nuts: small handful of hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans Seeds: poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame Fresh fish: salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, swordfish Avocado 5 6

5 Healthy change 2: Move more. We all know exercise can help us improve our health and lose weight. It can be hard to fit into our busy lives - but every little bit counts. Fitting in just three 10-minute sessions of exercise each day could help you to improve your cholesterol and live a healthier life. Here are some easy tips to help you get moving: Set your alarm clock just five minutes earlier. Try some warm-up exercises such as walking in place. Then, try some jumping jacks. Consider doing a few stretches after you're done. Take the steps instead of the elevator or escalator. If you sit all day during work, take a few 10-minute walks around the office or outside with co-workers. While you re at work, stop every hour or two to stretch. Move while you watch TV - lift hand weights, do sit-ups, or walk or jog in place. Park your car as far away from the entrance as possible - every step counts. Get off the bus a few blocks early, and walk the rest of the way. Dance to a favorite song when it comes on the radio. Play with your kids or grandkids. Plant or tend to a garden. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting an exercise plan. Healthy change 3: Lose weight. If you're overweight, losing weight is one of the steps you can take to lower your cholesterol. Even losing small amount of weight can make a difference. Use the tips provided for eating well and moving more to help you lose weight and keep it off. Healthy change 4: Quit smoking. Quitting smoking does more than lower your risk for certain cancers or breathing problems. It can also increase HDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease. Do you wish you could finally quit? Thinking about why you want to quit is the first step. Keeping your reason in mind throughout the quitting process can help to keep you on track. Also, be sure to talk with your doctor about quitting. Nicotine gum, patches and medicines have been found to help people quit. Ask your doctor what might be best for you. You can find helpful support and resources by visiting SmokeFree.gov or calling QUITNOW ( ). Do you drink alcohol? If you don't drink, experts do not recommend that you start. However, if you do drink, limiting yourself to one drink a day if you're a woman or two drinks a day if you're a man may lower your risk for heart disease. Keep in mind, drinking more alcohol than the amounts outlined above can actually raise your blood pressure and triglycerides, and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Be sure to talk with your doctor about consuming alcohol in moderation. 7 8

6 Healthy change 5: Managing your medicine. Medicines can be an important part of managing cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest you take one or several of the following cholesterol-lowering medicines to help improve your cholesterol. Medication Statins How it helps cholesterol levels Decrease triglycerides and LDL, slightly increase HDL Keep track of your cholesterol levels using this chart. LDL HDL Triglycerides Date: Date: Date: Date: Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors Fibrates Niacin Bile Acid, Binding Resins Decrease LDL Increase HDL, decrease triglycerides Increase HDL, decrease triglycerides and LDL Decrease LDL levels Total cholesterol LDL HDL Triglycerides Date: Date: Date: Date: If you ve been prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medicine, keep these things in mind: Be sure to take your medicine as directed. If you have questions or side effects, talk with your doctor right away. You may be able to save money. These medicines are usually covered by health plans, but some may have lower copays than others. There may also be lower-cost generic versions available. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you can save money. Total cholesterol Medicine(s) I take to lower my cholesterol: Diet instructions from my doctor: Exercise goals: 9 10

7 Additional resources Want to learn more about managing cholesterol? Visit the following websites for trusted information. American Heart Association Get current information and research from a trusted source. National Institutes of Health Make use of tools and resources from a government agency dedicated to health and wellness. MyPyramid Tracker Track your food and exercise, and learn more about your personal energy balance. My Food-A-Pedia Compare the calories and nutrients in different foods. SparkPeople UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company The information provided in this document is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for your doctor s care. Please discuss with your doctor how the information provided is right for your treatment plan. Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates. Administrative services provided by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, United HealthCare Services, Inc. or their affiliates United HealthCare Services, Inc. OA MBU A

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