Take Action: Get Tested
Find out what your cholesterol levels are. If your cholesterol is high, take steps to control it.
Make an appointment to get your cholesterol checked.
Call your doctor’s office or health center to schedule the test. Be sure to ask for a complete lipid profile – and find out what instructions you’ll need to follow before the test. For example, you may need to fast (not eat or drink anything except water) for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
You may also want to print these questions to ask your doctor about cholesterol [PDF - 121 KB] and take them to your appointment.
What about cost?
Cholesterol testing is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get your cholesterol checked at no cost to you.
- Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan. Ask about the Affordable Care Act.
- You can still get your cholesterol checked even if you don’t have insurance. To learn more, find a health center near you.
For more information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.
Keep track of your cholesterol levels.
Remember to ask the doctor or nurse for your cholesterol levels each time you get your cholesterol checked. Write the levels down to keep track of your progress.
Take Action: Eat Healthy
Eat heart-healthy foods.
Making healthy changes to your diet can help lower your cholesterol. Try to:
- Eat less saturated fat, which comes from animal products (like regular cheese, fatty meats, and dairy desserts) and tropical oils (like palm, palm kernel, and coconut oil).
- Stay away from trans fats, which may be in baked goods (like cookies and cake), snack foods (like microwave popcorn), fried foods, and margarines.
- Limit foods that are high in cholesterol, including fatty meats and organ meat (like liver and kidney).
- Limit foods that are high in salt or added sugar.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Eat more foods that are high in fiber, like oatmeal, oat bran, beans, and lentils.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits.
You can also:
Take Action: Healthy Habits
Getting active can help you lose weight, lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate activity, such as:
- Walking fast
Get more tips on protecting your heart with physical activity [PDF - 426 KB].
Quitting smoking will help lower your cholesterol. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support and to set up your quit plan.
And if you don't smoke, don't start!