What is Cholesterol and How You Can Lower Your Risk

cholesterol

September is National Cholesterol Month. Do you know what cholesterol is? Well, it’s a waxy substance that is found in many of the foods that we eat. It is also found in our body’s cells. If there is too much of it in the body, it builds up. This will eventually lead to a stroke or heart disease. Some cholesterol is actually needed in the body. Cholesterol is used to make hormones and vitamin D and it also plays a role in digestion.

There are three types of cholesterol. HDL (high-density lipoprotein), is often known as the good cholesterol. This one helps remove excess cholesterol from your body. You want this number to be high. LDL (low-density lipoprotein), is considered the bad cholesterol. This one can lead to the buildup of the plaque in your arteries. This number should be low. VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein), also leads to the buildup in the arteries.

There are many risk factors that can increase your chances of having high cholesterol. They include genetics, age, certain medicines, weight, diet, lack of activity, and smoking. If your cholesterol is high, you may need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug and change your lifestyle. If you need help with making these changes, book a call with me and I would be happy to help you with your lifestyle goals.

Tips

  • Increase your fiber intake. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, and whole grains. Getting adequate amounts of fiber from a variety of foods is important for everyone, not just those with high cholesterol. Remember, when you increase your fiber intake, you also need to increase your water intake. Otherwise, you may have constipation issues. So, if you aren’t used to eating very much fiber, gradually increase it each day. Check out my post about water intake here.
  • Get plenty of whole grains. Barley, oats, and oat bran are great ways to get more fiber. When choose your bread, read the label. Find bread that says 100% whole grain or the ingredient list has whole grain listed as the first ingredient. Try to limit processed or refined carbohydrates like white bread or white rice.
  • Limit saturated fats in your diet. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products like meat and dairy items. Higher intakes of saturated fats have been found to increase LDL cholesterol (the bad). Try using unsaturated fats whenever possible. They have been found to help decrease the LDL levels as well as the total cholesterol levels. Cook with vegetable oils such as olive, canola, or sunflower. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, avocado, or walnuts. Here’s a great way to make salmon using avocado! Yum!
  • Choose lean proteins. Choose cuts of meats that say “loin” or “round”. Remove the skin of the chicken. Choose healthy cooking techniques like broiling, baking, roasting, or stir-frying. Drain excess fat off of cooked ground meat. Avoid marbled meats or deep-fried foods since these are high in saturated fat.

Bottom Line

By eating a well-rounded, healthy diet, your cholesterol levels can get better. Concentrate on a high fiber diet with lots of veggies, lean protein and whole grains and you are doing your body a world of good! If you need more assistance in lowering your numbers or you just want to get healthy, book a call with me to see if my services are good for you! If you already know you want my help, book an appointment!

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