Under the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s new guidelines for statins, an estimated 13 million additional Americans now qualify to take the cholesterol-lowering medications.
But statins are not necessarily the first option for everyone, warns Elizabeth Kaback, MD, an integrative cardiologist at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. Instead, Dr. Kaback’s game plan for lowering cholesterol involves taking statins and supplements if needed, plus “therapeutic lifestyle changes.”
“Take baby steps,” she says. “A person must make changes they can live with.”
1. Get moving. Buy a pedometer and aim to walk at least 10,000 steps every day.
2. Reduce saturated fats. Dr. Kaback suggests:
- Avoiding fried and processed foods.
- Limiting dairy and meats.
- Eating foods high in fiber and whole grains.
- Transitioning your diet to include more vegetables and fruits, which have anti-inflammatory properties, are ripe with antioxidants that prevent stiff arteries and can help reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
3. Unplug. “Mobile devices keep us connected to our lives while also bombarding us with information and creating stress,” says Dr. Kaback. That leads to damaging stress hormones being released, paving the way for heart disease. “Downshifting” is crucial. Devote a part of your day to slowing down and having fun.