Did you know that there are both good and bad forms of cholesterol? Most people have a certain level of both types of cholesterol circulating through their bloodstream, based on diet and many other lifestyle factors.
Cholesterol is a natural component found in your blood. It's actually vital to your health to have a certain amount of the right type of cholesterol. But as with most things in life, too much cholesterol can be dangerous - and it's estimated that over 71 million Americans have high cholesterol.
Don't become another statistic, learn more about cholesterol care and how to keep unhealthy levels of cholesterol at bay.
What is Cholesterol and How Does it Affect Your Health?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is suspended within the bloodstream. There are two types of lipoproteins in the blood that carry cholesterol. There's high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as ''good'' cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - the cholesterol you don't want.
When your blood contains too many lipids, also known as fats, this can lead to hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia. This means your LDL cholesterol levels are too high. On the other hand, if your HDL cholesterol levels are too low, this dangerous too. HDL cholesterol helps to remove dangerous cholesterol from your arteries. With low HDL levels, your risk of clogged arteries and blockages increases.
Cholesterol Care: How to Prevent High Cholesterol
In order to keep your cholesterol levels under control, it's important to know your numbers and have your cholesterol measured every 5-years. This gives you a chance to work on high cholesterol levels and get your numbers within the healthy range. Here are a few more preventative tips:
1. Take Control of Your Diet
This is probably the most important thing you can do to control your cholesterol levels. They are directly related to your diet and what you consume on a daily basis. Some top tips include:
Reduce your saturated fat intake, i.e. red meat and full-fat dairy products
Cut out trans fat, i.e. overly processed foods such as margarine, store-bought cakes, cookies, and crackers
Stick to monounsaturated fats, i.e. natural nuts and olive oil or polyunsaturated fats, i.e. fresh fish and canola oil in cooking
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, herring, mackerel, walnuts, and other seeds
Up your intake of soluble fiber- found in oatmeal, legumes, lentils, sprouts, and fruit
Add whey protein to your diet which helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels
Stick to healthy carbohydrates full of additional fiber, such as wholewheat bread, pasta, and sweet potato
At the end of the day, a well-balanced diet is key. If it's too high in saturated and trans fats, your cholesterol levels will reflect this.
2. Exercise On a Regular Basis
A good way to maintain a healthy weight and diet is by incorporating regular exercise into your routine. Try to make it part of your lifestyle and it will become easy to maintain, too.
Try to exercise moderately (as in, break a sweat!) for 150 minutes per week - that's 30-minutes of exercise, 5 times per week. Or, you could work out more intensively 3 times per week.
3. Stop Smoking
One of the biggest contributing factors to poor cholesterol levels is the habit of smoking. As soon as you cut back or quit completely, your cholesterol levels will slowly return to normal. In fact, within 3 months of quitting, you will experience improved circulation and lung function. With 12 months of quitting, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker!
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