The dangers of high cholesterol are real. But, many people either don’t pay attention to the warnings, or don’t realize how their lifestyle choices may have a negative impact on their health, one that can have serious consequences. Let’s focus on how to become more aware of your cholesterol intake and how to treat it if it is high.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is naturally made by your liver. Your body needs it to build cells, meaning it’s crucial to our health. We also get cholesterol from the foods we eat, most notably from meat and dairy products. The problems with cholesterol start when we take in more cholesterol through our diet than we need. This can cause narrowing of the arteries which constricts blood flow and make your heart work harder than it’s supposed to.
There are two types of cholesterol that you need to be aware of:
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) – This is the type of cholesterol that can form fatty wax deposits known as plaques in your arteries, putting you at risk of heart disease and stroke. The plaque in your arteries begins to build up and the arteries start to harden, causing them to narrow, which blocks the blood flow in and out of your heart. When you hear people refer to “bad” cholesterol, they are referring to LDL.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) – This is known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is essential to the healthy function of your body. It transports excess cholesterol through our blood to our liver, so that they can be removed from the body.
Regulating Your Cholesterol
So, now that you know the good and the bad of how cholesterol works in our bodies, how do you make sure you are lowering the bad, while keeping the good? Well, there are a number of factors that can lead to high cholesterol. Some we can control, others not so much.
Here are the most common factors leading to high cholesterol:
- High cholesterol runs in your family (it can be genetic)
- Being overweight
- Not exercising regularly
- Smoking cigarettes
- Eating foods loaded in saturated fat and cholesterol (such as full-fat dairy products, butter, and fatty meat)
The first step in regulating your cholesterol is visiting your doctor to have yours tested. There are no symptoms of high cholesterol, so you’ll need to be your own advocate.
If it turns out that your cholesterol is high, here are some things you can do to help lower it:
- Eat a diet low in salt with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Quit smoking.
- Lose excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Avoid foods high in animal fats and use good fats in moderation.
- Use cholesterol supporting supplements such as CholestStall by Zahler.
- Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Manage stress (try meditation or relaxation with essential oils).
- Take a high quality daily multivitamin.
High cholesterol is definitely something you want to stay on top of. After age 40, men and women should have their cholesterol levels checked annually. Staying on top of your cholesterol before you have problems is as easy as making a few lifestyle changes that could potentially lead to a happier, healthier life in the future.