When it comes to cholesterol, did you know you could change your numbers by 25 percent by just changing your diet? It's not as hard as you think. Marcie Fraser has more.
Most of us know by now, it's the bad cholesterol, the LDLs that increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
"There has been a tremendous drop in heart attacks, when I started in '83, we were having 250 heart attacks a year. We are down to about 30," Cardiologist Dr. Andrij Baran said.
Why the drop in heart attacks? It's not because people are healthier, it's largely due to medicine.
Baran said, "Statins have slowed how fast the cholesterol builds up on our arteries."
Not everyone needs medication. Most often you can lower your numbers by eating right and exercising.
"I tell my patients, if it swims and flies, eat if it. If it comes from a cow and pig, avoid it," Baran said.
When should you first have your cholesterol checked?
"If you have a family history, twelve may not be a bad idea. On the other hand, if your grandparents lived to be in their nineties, then probably can't wait until you are 21 or older," Baran said.
In addition to keeping your weight in check, losing weight is always important. Try to eat fish two to three times a week. If you hate fish or can't cook, go the supplement route.
"There are other things we use that help for example, Omega 3s. If you have a gram of those a day, they do reduce cardiovascular risk," Baran said. "If you have high triglycerides, which are a certain type of fat, combination of fat and sugar, you have to go to three grams to lower that."
Krill is also touted to lower cholesterol but there is no data backing up that claim. Niacin, a vitamin used often to reduce triglycerides, is now in question.
"Unfortunately we had a study come out a week ago suggesting that people on niacin have an increased risk of stroke so we are in a quandary to what to do with that, we have to tailor to the patients," Baran said.