Published on September 22, 2015

Changing Leaves, Changing Habits

By Stamford Health Staff 

Fall foliage

Yellow school buses, changing leaves, and a cool breeze are sure signs that autumn is on its way! September not only marks the beginning of a new season, but is also National Cholesterol Education Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 102 million Americans over the age of 20 have cholesterol levels above the healthy limit of 200 mg/dL. These high levels of cholesterol can narrow and block arteries, causing a heart attack or stroke. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that adults 20 years and older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. So stop putting off that doctor’s appointment this month and see where your levels fall.

Luckily, high cholesterol can be prevented and even reversed with a few key healthy habits. A great way to start is by using the delicious seasonal fall produce that is now available. Apples, pears, cranberries, cherries, winter squash and plums are all great sources of soluble fiber, which lowers the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your body. Oats, bran, and barley are also high in heart-healthy soluble fiber. There’s no better way to start off a crisp fall morning than with a warm bowl of oatmeal!

Another excellent way to prevent high cholesterol is to get moving. Before the winter months approach, take advantage of the weather by staying active in the great outdoors. Hiking, walking, or bike riding are great weekend or after-work activities. Even little things like parking farther away than you normally do from the office or the grocery can add some steps to your day. Exercise can also relieve stress and anxiety – so both your head and your heart will thank you!