Cholesterol levels tell your doctor about the fats in your blood. Unhealthy levels are linked to hardening of the arteries, which can cause heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Your numbers include “bad” (LDL) and “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides, a common fat in your body. If you understand where your numbers are and what may affect them, you can do several things to help manage them.
Cholesterol: Get Tested Regularly
Unhealthy cholesterol numbers don’t cause any symptoms, so it’s important to get them checked on a regular basis. If there’s a problem, diet, lifestyle changes, and medication can help.
Cholesterol: Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control cholesterol. For example, 40 minutes of walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing 3 or 4 times a week will do the trick. Resistance training, pushups, pullups, weights, can also help.
Cholesterol: Sitting for long periods is bad
Sitting too long can be linked to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It lowers “good” cholesterol, which helps get rid of the bad stuff, and raises triglyceride levels. This is true even if you exercise regularly. If you work at a desk, try to get up and move around every 30 minutes, or think about using a standing desk.
Cholesterol: Stop Smoking
It lowers your “good” cholesterol levels, which means you keep more of the bad stuff. And it’s linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Quitting can make your cholesterol levels better and help protect your arteries. If you don’t smoke, do your best to stay away from secondhand smoke.
Carrying too many pounds, especially around your belly, can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good kind (HDL). But lose just 10% of your weight, and you could really help your numbers. A good diet plus exercise program is the answer.
Cholesterol: Stay Away From Saturated Fat
This comes from beef, pork, lamb, and full-fat dairy like butter, cream, milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as tropical oils like palm and coconut. All those things can raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. It can help to trim visible fat from meats and go with skim milk and low-fat yogurt. If your LDL is high, you shouldn’t get more than 6% of your calories from saturated fat.
Cholesterol: Say No! to Trans Fat
Sometimes called “partially hydrogenated” fats or oils, you find them in fried foods, pastries, pizza dough, doughnuts, muffins, cookies, crackers, and many prepackaged foods. They raise your bad levels and lowers the good HDL. Check food labels to limit trans fats. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and nuts.
Cholesterol: Put Fiber In Your Diet
There are 2 types: soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which doesn’t. Both are good for your heart health, but soluble fiber in particular helps lower your LDL levels. Add it to your diet with a bowl of oatmeal in the morning or with oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils, or vegetables.
Cholesterol: Go Easy On The Liquor
Overdoing it with alcohol can cause unhealthy numbers. In particular, it can raise the level of fats in your blood. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women one. If you keep to that, you also might boost your HDL or “good” numbers.