When it comes to your heart health, your cholesterol gives a snapshot into whether or not you are at risk for heart disease. Cholesterol is a lipid inside of your bloodstream and comes in two varieties: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Doctors like to see the presence of HDL, which cleans excess cholesterol out of your system. However, if your cholesterol count is high with LDL, it means that cholesterol is building up on the walls of your arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Along with advice from your primary care doctor, you can lower your cholesterol through some simple lifestyle changes.
Work on Your Diet
The key to any healthy lifestyle starts with your diet, and good cholesterol is no exception. Along with a well-balanced plate, a good cholesterol is maintained through smart health decisions, like good fats and fiber choices.
Fat has gotten a bad reputation over the last couple of decades, but luckily the conversation has shifted from banning all fats to promoting ones that are better for our health in moderation. Fats in our diets help with:
- Brain health
- Vitamin absorption
- Staying full for longer
The kinds of fats that promote these healthy functions come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, or unsaturated fats. What makes them a healthier option than their counterparts, saturated or trans fats, is they do not cause an increase in cholesterol lipid counts in your blood which can lead to heart disease. Some healthy sources of unsaturated fats include: olive oil, canola oil, fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. Whereas saturated fats, like butter, cream, fatty cuts of meat and cheese should only take up 5% of our diet.
Ever see the phrase “heart-healthy” on a product in the grocery store? Chances are it contains soluble fibers. There are only two kinds of fiber, insoluble and soluble. But only soluble fibers can help lower your cholesterol as it can get reduce bad cholesterol with help from your digestive system.
You can find soluble fiber in foods such as:
- Pears and figs
- Nectarines and apricots
Soluble fibers not only lower bad cholesterol but they also help balance blood sugar levels and good gut health.
When we get our body moving, our health wins. In fact, just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can make improvements on our cholesterol. Physical activity is important as it raises our High-density lipoprotein (HDL) counts, the good kind of cholesterol. Some exercise ideas include:
- Brisk walk, jog or run
- Weight lifting
- Riding a bike
Drop Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
Whether or not you have a well-balanced diet and exercise regimen, if you are smoking or drinking too much alcohol you may be setting yourself up to have high cholesterol. Each cigarette is packed with a number of toxins. One that affects cholesterol is acrolein, a yellow vapor emitted from burning plants that makes its way from our lungs into our bloodstream. It’s also the same toxin that is used in pesticides and chemical weapons.
A glass of red wine can promote heart health, but it’s the excess that can land you in trouble. Excessive drinking is linked with not only heart disease (a cause of bad cholesterol), but can raise your risk for stroke and obesity.
Check With Our Health Providers
If suspect you have bad cholesterol, check in with one of our health providers here at Community Access Network. If that is your diagnosis, we will work with you to develop a plan to lower your count and reduce your risk for heart disease. Schedule an appointment today!