You can change your fate by simply eating well.

Next: Step #1: Know your numbers. »

High blood cholesterol is linked with about one-third of heart disease cases worldwide, according to data from the United Nations. Your blood cholesterol (lipid profile) is made up of several readings: high-density cholesterol (HDL), low-density cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides (TG). LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are often referred to as “bad” cholesterol; high levels (greater than 160 mg/dL and 200 mg/dL, respectively) are considered risk factors for developing heart disease. On the other hand, “good” HDL protects against cardiovascular disease. (A healthy HDL target is 60 mg/dL or higher.) But an undesirable lipid profile doesn’t mean that developing heart disease is inevitable. Research shows that changing your diet for the better can help lower “bad” LDL and TG levels, as well as increase “good” HDL cholesterol, if they’re out of healthy ranges. Talk with your doctor about a screening. Medications are sometimes needed.

Next: Step #2: Calculate your risk.

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