If you have high cholesterol and are struggling with your weight, then your doctor may recommend that you enroll in a weight loss program to help you meet your goals. Weight loss plans can be individualized so that your caloric intake is appropriate for your activity level and your medical needs. Here are some of the positive benefits that weight loss plans have on cholesterol levels.

Raises HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins are also known as HDL cholesterol. They are thought to reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke, and they are highly dependent upon dietary habits, weight, and even genetics. Losing weight helps raise your HDL cholesterol, and when you incorporate an exercise program into your weight loss plan, your HDLs will rise even more.

If you are unable to increase your high-density lipoprotein levels by weight loss and exercise alone, your physician may recommend that you take a statin drug. While highly effective in raising HDLs, which are also known as the "good" cholesterol, statin drugs can cause muscle pain, fatigue, jaundice, and elevated liver enzymes. These side effects often subside after the first month of treatment, but they may persist until you stop taking the drug.

Lowers LDL Cholesterol

Weight loss also helps lower low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol. LDLs are also known as the "bad" type of cholesterol because they are responsible for blocked arteries, heart attacks, and strokes. Your weight loss counselor will recommend healthy foods to help bring down your LDLs and they may also recommend that you avoid smoking because it can further raise your low-density lipoproteins.

Statin drugs also help lower LDL cholesterol, however, physicians often recommend lifestyle modifications first before trying prescription medications. If you are unable to tolerate the side effects of statin medications, your doctor may recommend that you take niacin, which not only helps reduce LDL cholesterol but also triglycerides. These blood lipids may also raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

One of the most significant side effects of niacin is flushing, however, this is typically only seen when larger doses are taken. This is called the "niacin flush," and it is very common in people who take this B vitamin for cholesterol purposes. 

To learn more about how weight loss plans can help you manage your cholesterol levels, make an appointment with a counselor at a weight loss center to determine which program might be right for you.