Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lose Weight to Lower Your Cholesterol

If you are overweight or obese, chances are, you may have high levels of total cholesterol and LDL or 'bad' cholesterol. If so, you are not alone. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, about 50 million Americans are prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications each year. Unfortunately, these medications often have serious side effects. This has many people asking if there is another way to lower their cholesterol.

Obesity and High Cholesterol
If you are overweight or obese and diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor might suggest that you lose weight as a first attempt to lower your cholesterol. On the other hand, depending on your unique medical situation, he may put you on medication to lower your cholesterol while you take steps to lose the weight.

Cholesterol Dangers
High cholesterol, particularly high levels of LDL or 'bad' cholesterol, can cause plaque to buildup in your arteries, reduce blood flow to your heart and ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke. To avoid this potentially fatal outcome, it is important to lower your cholesterol. In some cases, diet and exercise to lose weight may be sufficient. Others may require prescription drugs or a combination of weight loss and medication.

Losing Weight to Lower Your Cholesterol
Studies show that many people are able to lower their cholesterol and reduce their medication dosage or completely discontinue their medication after losing as little as 7 to 10 percent of their body weight. This is certainly encouraging if you want to avoid the side effects often associated with cholesterol-lowering medications and save money on prescription drugs at the same time. (Note of caution: Do not discontinue prescription drugs without first talking with your doctor.)

Getting Started
If you are overweight or obese, you can start to lose weight and lower your cholesterol by following a few basic strategies promoted by the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive And Kidney Diseases:
  • Choose foods that are lower in calories 
  • Choose foods that are lower in fat 
  • Eat smaller portions 
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks 
  • Stay active 
Weight Control: MedlinePlus