The up and downs of cholestrol

As the old saying goes, “‘What goes up must come down.” In the case of high cholesterol, you must bring your level down if you want to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. But the question is how to get it down. Unfortunately, gravity isn’t going to help.

If youre facing this problem (and you probably are if you’re reading this book), you’re anything but alone. About half of all adults in America have cholesterol levels that are too high. Even if you don’t know your cholesterol numbers, if you’re overweight (as three in five adults are) or sedentary (as two in five adults are), it’s quite likely your levels of cholesterol and other blood fats are out of whack.

So what’s to be done? If you’ve already been diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor has probably told you to watch what you eat, get more exercise, and maybe fill a prescription. But chances are that’s the only help you got. You probably didn’t get specific advice about which foods you should eat more of or which to avoid. (Did you know that nuts are good for your arteries, or that eggs are back on the menu?) You probably weren’t told that relieving stress can help your body clear cholesterol from the bloodstream, or that certain supplements can help stave off a heart attack. It’s even possible that you got outdated or even wrong information. For example, the very low-fat diets some doctors recommend could actually make your problem worse by raising your triglyceride level (which you’ll read more about later) and lowering your level of “good” cholesterol—the kind that protects you from heart attacks.

Whatever information your doctor gave you, it likely didn’t include a step-by-step 12-week plan to help you make the exact lifestyle changes that have been proven to  lower cholesterol. But now you have one in this book: the  Plan.

Cutting your cholesterol doesn’t require heroic measures, just small changes to some of Une everyday habits you’ve acquired over the years—the same ones that likely contributed to your cholesterol problem in the first place. These small changes are what the  Plan is all about. Just by dipping your bread in olive oil instead of smearing it with butter, and skipping the greasy pork sausages for breakfast (at least
most of the time), you could lower your cholesterol 5 to 10 percent in just a few weeks, That translates to a 10 to 20 percent reduction in your heart disease risk. Add less than
a cup of beans a day to your diet or switch to a high-fiber cereal, and your levels could plummet another 20 points, which could effectively cut your heart disease risk in half.

By following the  Plan for 12 weeks, most people will drop their
cholesterol 30 points or more. Best of all, the same actions you’ll take on the Plan— like eating more fruits, vegetables, and fiber, fitting more physical activity into your everyday life, and learning to relax—will also boost your protection against everything from high blood pressure to diabetes to cancer. No cholesterol-lowering pill can promise these benefits. But before you embark on the Plan, you’ll definitely want to know more about the main problem at hand: cholesterol. 

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