The next time you visit your primary care physician, he or she may recommend a cholesterol test. This test will evaluate your total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins, and high-density lipoproteins.

Your triglycerides will also be checked because these blood lipids are also considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. While medications known as statins can help manage abnormal blood lipid profiles, they can cause serious side effects such as elevated liver enzymes and muscle pain. Instead of statin medications, your primary care doctor may recommend the following dietary measures to lower your cholesterol levels.

Consume Fresh Fish

Fresh fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances are very effective in decreasing cholesterol levels. While omega-3 fatty acids can lower your total cholesterol, they may be most effective in reducing your "bad cholesterol." Also known as low-density lipoproteins, or LDLs, elevated bad cholesterol may raise your risk for blocked arteries, blood clots, and heart attacks.

If you don't enjoy eating fish, talk to your primary care physician about taking an omega-3 or fish oil supplement. While considered safe, these supplements may raise your risk for abnormal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, especially if you are taking prescription "blood thinners," or anticoagulant medication. 

Enjoy Avocados

Your physician may also recommend that you increase your intake of avocados to help manage your high cholesterol. Avocados are rich in healthy fats known as monounsaturated fats, which help raise your high-density lipoproteins, or "good cholesterol." High-density lipoproteins provide protection against cardiovascular disease and may lower your risk for stroke. While eating an avocado every day may help improve your blood lipid profile, eating more than one avocado per day may lead to weight gain or gastrointestinal problems.

Avocados can be added to sandwiches or simply consumed plain with a splash of lemon or lime juice. While avocados are often called "superfoods," they may not be well tolerated by those with gallbladder disease. Avocados are high in fat, and if you have gallstones or other types of gallbladder disease, you may develop pain in your upper abdomen soon after eating them. 

If you have high cholesterol and are seeking alternatives to prescription statin drugs, talk to your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a nutritionist, who can recommend "heart-healthy" foods that will help lower both your cholesterol and your blood pressure. 

Reach out to a physician at a clinic like Premiere Medical Center Med Partners for more information.