November 15, 2016
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in fats. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but too much of it can increase your risk of heart disease.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two kinds of cholesterol. The two types are named based on the kind of protein the cholesterol is attached to while it travels through your blood. This combination of protein and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. The two types are:
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – This is also known as “good” cholesterol. HDL picks up extra cholesterol in your blood, takes it to your liver to be metabolized, and moves it out of your body.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol. It moves particles through your body. LDL sticks to the walls of your vessels, making them narrow and hard. This can increase your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Controllable Risk Factors
You can’t control all risk factors for high cholesterol. But, here are a few factors you can control and easy ways to lower your numbers.
Your diet can increase your risk of high cholesterol. Bad foods include:
- Saturated fats – found in animal products
- Trans fats – found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers
- Foods high in cholesterol – red meat and full-fat dairy products
Several foods can lower your cholesterol. A few foods to try include oats, whole grains, soy, and fatty fish.
Almost 35 percent of all adults in the United States are obese. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or over, you are at a higher risk of high cholesterol.
To fight obesity, you need proven strategies to lower your body weight. Choose healthy foods and drinks. Count the number of calories you eat each day in a food diary. Increase your physical activity. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. To learn about counting calories, see more information here.
If you don’t get enough physical activity, you are at a higher risk of gaining weight. You don’t have to run a marathon to get started. Increase your physical activity slowly. Participate in at least thirty minutes of physical activity each day that uses both your upper and lower limbs. This includes walking, running, swimming, or yoga.
Are you a smoker? Cigarettes cause damage to blood vessel walls, which make them hold onto fatty substances, like cholesterol. It also lowers your “good” cholesterol.
Quitting smoking has proven to increase the amount of good cholesterol in less than three weeks from your last cigarette. So, even if you have smoked your entire life, quitting now can still impact your heart health.
If your blood sugar runs high, it could make your bad cholesterol levels increase. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan for control of your diabetes, which may include diet, exercise, and medications.
Are you ready to get your numbers under control? Call our office today to book an appointment with your primary doctor.