Healthy Eating

Reducing Cholesterol for A Healthier Life

We’ve been hearing about cholesterol for years. It’s important for our health, sure, but what exactly is it? And why do our levels matter so much?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in blood. Our bodies need SOME cholesterol to function properly. However, elevated levels can lead to plaque buildup in our arteries and increase the risk of heart problems. Thankfully, staying safe is easy, so long as we know what to do. Let’s learn the right steps for keeping our levels low and our hearts healthy.

Watch It Closely

High cholesterol levels, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, can lead to a buildup of fatty deposits in our arteries – a condition called atherosclerosis. Over time, these deposits can narrow the arteries, restricting blood flow and potentially leading to heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular problems. By reducing cholesterol levels, we can significantly reduce these risks.

Tips for Reducing LDL


  • Start by adopting a heart-healthy diet.
    • Increase fiber intake Consume foods rich in soluble fiber, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and oats.
    • Choose healthy fats — Replace saturated and trans fats with healthier fats like those in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Limit intake of high-fat dairy products and fatty meats.
    • Pick lean proteins Select lean sources of protein like skinless poultry, fish, legumes, and tofu, while limiting red meat consumption.
    • Include omega-3 fatty acids — Incorporate fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines into your diet. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
    • Move — Try for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. That’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Engage in activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.
    • Lift — Include strength training exercises to build muscle and support overall cardiovascular health. You don’t need weights. You can do resistance exercises like pushups, pullups, or sit-ups.
    • Consult — Talk to a health care professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Doing all the above will help you get to a healthy body weight, and then maintain it. You can achieve better cholesterol levels and better heart health.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Drink only in moderation. Just one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels, lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and raises LDL cholesterol. Seek professional help to quit smoking and promote heart health.

Know Your Numbers

We encourage you to work with your doctor to get your cholesterol level down. Join the AltaMed Dietician Consultations program to receive a tailored nutrition plan that will help you feel good and grow healthy. Call (323) 558-7606 to enroll.

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Heart Exam

It’s Time to Check on Your Heart

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, maybe hearts have been on your mind. And while it’s fun to celebrate with candy hearts, your real heart deserves a moment too. 

February is American Heart Month, aimed at increasing awareness of heart health. According to the CDC, someone suffers a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States. Heart disease is a serious issue and accounted for 1 in 5 deaths in 2020. Luckily, overall cases are on the decline. This month, make sure you’re giving your heart the love it deserves.

Tick the Right Boxes

Heart disease is, to an extent, genetic. It can be passed from one generation to another. However, by building healthy habits, you can lower your risk. The steps below will not only improve your overall health but keep your heart in tip-top shape:

  • Eat healthy — Reduce your intake of processed foods like lunchmeat, chips, candy, and fast food. Make your meals colorful with lots of leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
  • Start moving — You don’t have to run a marathon. Just move about 30 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk after dinner or first thing in the morning. It’s important to get your heart rate up for a total of 150 minutes a week.
  • Control cholesterol and blood pressure — More exercise, more fiber in your diet, less red meat, and less dairy will all contribute to lowering your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Decreasing salt also helps.
  • Don’t drink excessively — It can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. Excessive drinking can also lead to obesity which is a contributing factor in heart-related diseases.
  • Reduce stress — Prolonged stress can cause long-term damage to health including cardiovascular disease. Try to remove or reduce stressors in your life.

Other Risk Factors

Ignoring the tips above can lead to a higher risk of developing heart disease. There are some other factors outside your control like family history. You’re also at higher risk if:

  • You’re a woman over 55
  • You’re a man over 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before 65

Jump Start a Healthy Heart

There is so much you can do to take care of your heart that it may be a little overwhelming. AltaMed is here to help get you on a path to healthy living and keep you there.

Our Healthy Heart Program encourages participants to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Each week, we’ll focus on topics likes stress management, exercise, nutrition, and medication compliance. The program maintains a positive, support group-type environment. Participants work together and motivate each other to succeed.

It is recommended for people who want to achieve healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Call (323) 558-7606 to enroll.

Healthy Foods

Foods with Surprising Health Benefits

Go ahead. Have some chocolate. Drag it through some peanut butter. Maybe wash it down with a cup of coffee.

At some point you read an article or saw a news story encouraging you to give up these foods as being unhealthy. It’s simply not true. Over-indulging in these foods — just like over-indulging in anything — can be harmful over time. But there are plenty of foods you thought you needed to avoid that you can enjoy, in moderation.


Drinking alcohol must be done in moderation. One alcoholic beverage a day for women and two for men may help protect from heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. But the moderate consumption must include a healthy diet and regular exercise to get the greatest benefit.


It’s lean with less saturated fat than 30 years ago. Replacing beef and chicken with pork could help you lose weight and body fat. Tenderloin is a great, lean cut.

Popcorn Bowl


It’s a whole grain that’s loaded with fiber, which helps fill you up and keeps you regular. It also has vitamin B, manganese, and magnesium, and antioxidants, which may protect you against disease and cell damage. Don’t drown it in butter or cover it in salt.


They’re loaded with good fat. The kind of fat that is linked to a healthy heart and good cholesterol levels. Eating avocados regularly can help your eyes and skin and may even help with belly fat.

Raw Ground Meat on a Plate


Lean red meat with the fat trimmed away is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc, and iron. Eat it occasionally and in small portions and it’s been shown to lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Chicken (Dark Meat)

Thighs and legs may have more fat, but they also have more minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium. There are more vitamins like A, B, and K. It’s also high in taurine, which breaks down fat and helps with inflammation and blood pressure.

Stacked Pieces of Dark Chocolate


Dark chocolate is the healthiest because it has the least sugar and is made mostly of cocoa and that’s where there are flavonoids. These plant chemicals may help protect against cell damage. They could also lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and make you less likely to have certain kinds of heart disease. Remember, only eat a little bit.


They are rich in protein with a full range of B vitamins and amino acids. They also include vitamin D and selenium. They are NOT calorie dense, meaning they help you feel fuller longer.

Cup of Coffee Being Poured


This can also be healthy when consumed in moderation. It can help reduce heart disease, help you process sugar, reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease, help protect your liver, strengthen your DNA, reduce your risk of colon cancer, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and reduce your risk of stroke. Just don’t load it up with a lot of sugar and creamer.


The full-fat variety isn’t likely to raise your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes if it’s part of a balanced diet. Foods like yogurt, whole milk, and brie can be good for you. Just watch the calories or they will pile up.

Pasta Served in a Bowl


Pasta fills you up, it’s a good source of energy, is low in salt, and low in fat. Just don’t cover it with heavy sauces. Try whole-grain pastas for an even healthier alternative.

Potato Salad

Cooled potatoes have something called “resistant starch,” which acts like fiber and can help keep you regular and your gut healthy. Potatoes — whether hot or cold — have lots of nutrients, like potassium and magnesium. Choose low-fat, low-calorie mayonnaise for potato salad.

Toasted Bread with Peanut Butter and Honey


It may be full of sugar, but it’s a natural sweetener with plenty of antioxidants to protect your cells. It’s also good for inflammation. It mixes well with the bacteria in your gut which helps with digestion. Local honey can also help with allergies.

Peanut Butter

It may have saturated fat, but it’s 80% unsaturated fat, which isn’t bad. Eating nuts or peanut butter regularly reduces the risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetes. It also has potassium. Get it unsalted for a healthier option.

Frozen Veggies

They’re affordable, convenient, and they have the same benefits as fresh vegetables. They may even be better because you can store them, so stock up when you can.

Dietician Consultations Available

No matter your age, what you eat has a huge effect on your overall health. Healthy eating isn’t hard – especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dietitians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietitian: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

This program is available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

Reducing Cholesterol for A Healthier Life