Heart Health

Patient Education from Capital Cardiology Associates

Cholesterol

A healthy diet is a great first step towards a healthy heart. Combined with a solid exercise program, it can take you a long way towards living long, healthy and productive life. The number one concern with respect to diet is your cholesterol level.

The types of food you eat, in particular, the amount and types of fat, can make a huge difference in your health. Surprisingly, cholesterol in food is not the biggest contributor to cholesterol in your blood stream. That distinction belongs to saturated fats.

Saturated fats are those that are found in fatty cuts of meat, whole milk, butter, cream, ice cream and cheese to name a few. While it is not realistic to ask you to avoid these altogether, it is best to use them as little as possible.

Just as was the case with cholesterol, not all the news about fats is bad. Unsaturated fats, which usually originate from vegetables can actually lower your cholesterol levels when used in small doses. Unsaturated fats usually come in the form of cooking oils and can usually replace butter in your diet, at least most of the time.

Dietary cholesterol also will raise your blood cholesterol level. Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal products, not in vegetables. Foods to cut down on if your cholesterol level is too high are egg yolks, and most meat products.

So try to stick to non-fatty meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains, and–here’s some good news–have a glass of wine occasionally. Alcohol has been shown to raise the amount of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) with no side effects when used in moderation.

Exercise

A good exercise program is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, one that can have you a leading long and satisfying life.

It has been shown that exercising regularly and taking off extra fat can lower the levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and raise the levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind). It will also reduce your risk of diabetes and lower your blood pressure. That’s a pretty good return on a relatively small time investment!

What we recommend is that you consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. Once you get the OK, start on any type of exercise that is good for your heart such as walking swimming, biking, tennis, jogging. These are what are called aerobic exercises, as opposed to anaerobic exercises such as lifting heavy weights.

Your goal should be to raise your respiration and heart rates for about 20 to 30 minutes, three to five times a week. Be sure to warm up and stretch properly as well. If you ever feel breathless or overly tired, or if you develop chest pains, light-headedness, or a cold sweat, stop exercising and consult a physician.

Be sure to read the information we have provided on the importance of diet and nutrition, and the role they play in having a “healthy heart”.

Additional Reading

Read our brochure on Obesity