• By Laurel J. Kelly

Housecall: Top foods to improve your cholesterol numbers

September 16, 2019
a close-up overhead view of a bowl of oatmeal with almonds, blueberries and cranberries sprinkled on top

THIS WEEK'S TOP TOPICS
Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers 
Can a bowl of oatmeal lower your cholesterol? How about a handful of almonds? A few simple tweaks to your diet — along with exercise and other heart-healthy habits — may lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.

Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The infection can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It's most serious for infants and young children, people older than 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems. Vaccines are available to prevent some types of pneumonia, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for all children under 2, all adults 65 and older, anyone ages 2–64 with certain medical conditions, and adults who smoke cigarettes. Learn about the symptoms and risk factors for pneumonia, and what you can do to prevent it.

EXPERT ANSWERS
What causes foot and leg swelling during air travel?
Leg and foot swelling during air travel is common and typically harmless. The most likely culprit is inactivity during a flight. This swelling isn't a serious problem if it lasts only a short time. But excessive swelling that persists for several hours after you resume activity may be due to a more serious condition, such as a blood clot in the leg. Learn more from Dr. Sheldon Sheps, an emeritus Mayo Clinic hypertension and peripheral vascular diseases specialist.

What are the side effects of gabapentin?
Gabapentin, which is sold under the brand names Neurontin and Gralise, is a medication used to manage certain epileptic seizures and relieve pain for some conditions, such as shingles. Dizziness and drowsiness are common side effects. Weight gain and uncoordinated movement also are possible side effects. One concern about certain anti-seizure medications, including gabapentin, is that they might cause an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Learn more from Dr. Cheolsu Shin, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

PLUS ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
Blood and bone marrow stem cell donation
Epidermoid cysts
Brow lift
Transient global amnesia

HEALTHY RECIPES
Grilled turkey burger
Southwestern frittata
Tuna steak sandwiches
Grilled pork fajitas

HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK
Healthy eating: One step at a time
Improving your eating habits is an important step toward healthier living. But don't feel pressured to change your diet overnight. Instead, tackle it one step at a time. Add a fruit or vegetable to your lunch. Choose whole-wheat pasta or brown rice for dinner. Taking it slow will help you maintain your healthier habits in the long run.

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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