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Take Action To Control Your Cholesterol

Download Take Action To Control Your Cholesterol pdf document (75k, 2 pages) handout.

Do you know your cholesterol numbers?

Get Checked

  • A lipid profile is a blood test that measures your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Adults aged 20 and older should have a lipid profile test at the doctor's office.

Take Action

  • Eating foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can help you reduce your blood cholesterol level, reduce your weight, and prevent heart disease.

Here is what your cholesterol numbers mean.

  • Total Cholesterol
    • Less than 200 mg/dL = Desirable. Good for you! Keep up the good work!
    • 200–239 mg/dL = Borderline high. Depending on your other risk factors, you may be at a higher risk for heart disease. It is time to change your eating habits, increase your physical activity, and lose weight if overweight.
    • Ask your doctor what your risk is for heart disease.
    • 240 mg/dL or higher = High. You are at a higher risk for clogged arteries and a heart attack. Ask your doctor what your risk is for heart disease.
  • LDL (lousy, bad) cholesterol: Keep it low!
    • Less than 100 mg/dL = Optimal
    • 100-129 mg/dL = Near optimal
    • 130–159 mg/dL = borderline high
    • 160 mg/dL or more = high
  • HDL (healthy, good) cholesterol (mg/dL): The higher the better! Keep it 40 mg/dL or more.
  • Triglycerides: Keep your triglycerides below 150 mg/dL.

Write Your Numbers Here

  • Total:
  • LDL:
  • HDL:
  • Triglycerides:

Doña Fela has learned that it's not difficult to get one's family to eat foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol:

How I switched my family from whole milk to fat-free milk: “I slowly changed the milk my family drinks from whole milk to fat-free milk. The first month I served reduced-fat (2%) milk. During the next month I served low-fat (1%) milk. Finally, I made the switch to fat-free milk. The change was so slow that they couldn't even taste the difference.”

Try some of these simple changes

When Shopping

  1. Buy fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk and cheese.
  2. Buy vegetable oil spray. Spray it on baking pans and skillets instead of using a lot of fat to grease pans.
  3. Use the food label to help you choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

When Cooking

  1. Trim the fat from meat, and remove the skin and fat from chicken and turkey before cooking.
  2. Cook ground meat, drain the fat, and rinse with hot tap water. This removes half the fat.
  3. Cool soups, and remove the layer of fat that rises to the top.

When Eating

  1. Use fat-free or low-fat salad dressing, mayonnaise, or sour cream.
  2. Use small amounts of tub margarine instead of butter.
  3. Choose fruits and vegetables instead of high-fat foods like chips or fries.

Virginia has learned that eating foods high in saturated fat can raise her blood cholesterol level. So she's modified her favorite pie recipe by using soft margarine, fat-free milk, and low-fat cream cheese. Now the pie is lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and it still tastes great.

Make your personal pledge to do what Virginia has done! Look at these examples:

  • Breakfast
    Use fat-free or low-fat milk in coffee or on cereal.
  • Lunch
    Use leftover roasted chicken to make a sandwich. Eat it with some raw carrots and a banana for dessert.
  • Dinner
    Bake chicken with lime juice, cilantro, and tomatoes. Remove and throw away the skin before cooking.
  • Snack
    Eat an apple instead of tortilla chips that are high in fat.

Write the changes you will make this week:

The health of you and your family is priceless. Make an investment in it!

Back to Session 5

Information on this page is taken from the English print version of “Your Heart, Your Life, A Community Health Worker's Manual.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH Publication No. 08-3674, Originally Printed 1999, Revised May 2008.

Last Updated March 2012

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