What is cholesterol?
It is a type of fat made in the liver to help bile production. Your body makes some cholesterol on its own and is needed to help digest food, make vitamin D and hormones; sex hormones to be precise. Your liver will produce more cholesterol when you eat trans-fats and saturated fats; if these are part of your regular diet, it will lead to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
What are the dangers of high cholesterol or high LDL?
LDL is low-density-lipoprotein and you want to keep this number low; HDL is high-density-lipoprotein and this level is best when kept high.
Three common risks of high cholesterol levels are heart attack, stroke and insulin resistance which can, and usually does, lead to diabetes if healthy changes are not made.
Without throwing out all the numbers, here are some ways to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level and/or get your cholesterol back to a healthy level.
- Eat less/no bad fats: red meat, fatty meat, fried foods including everyone’s favorite, French fries. Sorry, your life is worth more than a few fries!
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
- Consume less alcohol if you drink more than 1-2 per day.
- Lose weight if you are overweight but even if you’re thin, you can have high cholesterol; know your numbers.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, soluble fiber: oats, oat bran, beans, lentils, peas.
- Exercise: it reduces the absorption of cholesterol. Get active 30 minutes/day at least 5 days a week. If you can’t find time, break it up in 10-15-minute intervals a few times a day. Walk, run, bike, swim, dance, jumping jacks, jump rope, roller blade. Just get active!
By eating a diet higher in vegetables, fruit, healthy fiber and healthy whole grains, eating smaller portion sizes, drinking plenty of water every day along with physical activity, you can have and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. In adopting these habits, you will likely have healthy blood pressure and sugar levels as well.
Eat, drink & play the healthy way!