A UCLA Heart Doctor Says the Change in Seasons May Affect Your Cholesterol

Now that the days are getting colder and fresher and the leaves are starting to change, it’s time to get cozy. The colder seasons are ideal for fine dining, curling up on the couch and celebrating the holidays with the family. While these experiences are good for the soul, according to a leading physician, they are not always so good for our heart health.

dr. Norman E. Lepor, MD, FACC, FAHA, FSCAI, is a cardiologist at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). dr. Lepor explains that for many Americans, bad cholesterol levels can rise as temperatures drop. The pattern, as he explains it, makes a lot of sense. “[People] don’t feel like going to the gym or they don’t go out for a jog or exercise,” says Dr. lepor. “They tend to consume more comfort foods and even greater amounts of alcohol.”

While one result is often weight gain (which Dr. Lepor indicates can increase the risk of heart-related diseases and type 2 diabetes), the number on the scale doesn’t actually have a strict correlation for cholesterol. Even someone who is naturally thin should consider their levels. “You can’t tell a person if they have coronary artery disease,” says Dr. lepor. “I have patients who are thin and very active, and you know something? They also have heart attacks and strokes.”

Here’s what to keep in mind this fall.

Get the healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter

Why the seasons are important for cholesterol levels

Many of the foods we consume at this time of year tend to be higher in saturated fats, which can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and clog blood vessels. The American Heart Association suggests that this puts you at a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Instead, says Dr. Lepor to focus on following a Mediterranean diet, which studies have shown lower LDL cholesterol levels and positively impact cardiovascular health. The Mediterranean diet contains more sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, raising HDL “good” cholesterol, which takes the excess LDL cholesterol into the blood and carries it to the liver to be removed from the body.

In addition, if the snow lands on the ground, a walk may not be as appealing as a warm spring day. Still, movement is the key. According to the Mayo Clinic, being moderately physically active for 30 minutes five times a week can help raise those HDL cholesterol levels. Without exercise, the body has fewer opportunities to clear LDL cholesterol in the system, especially if the food choices are poor.

Nutritionist Approved: 13 Cozy Fall Recipes

How to Easily Test Your Cholesterol Levels

As the colder months approach, Dr. Lepor recommended to get a coronary calcium score, a method he often uses on his patients to determine their cholesterol levels. “As a cardiologist,” says Dr. Lepor, “[…] my job is to take a high-risk patient and reduce their risk of developing coronary vascular events such as heart attack or stroke. The coronary calcium screen is a very important test [indicating whether] plaque is present, and if plaque is present, you are at risk.”

dr. Lepor says it’s never too early to be checked for cholesterol. He usually advises his patients to have regular checkups around the age of 40.

For more wellness updates, follow The Healthy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Keep reading:

A UCLA Heart Doctor Says the Change in Seasons May Affect Your Cholesterol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top