What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat naturally produced by the liver. It is a waxy steroid in the outer layers of our body cells. We also consume cholesterol by eating animal products. Despite popular opinion, not all cholesterol is bad.
We classify cholesterol into two groups, HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). HDL helps drive the LDL from the body. It keeps the bad cholesterol from clogging arteries. Although the body produces some cholesterol, a number of people may inherit a gene that causes them to produce too much LDL cholesterol. Too much of one type and not enough of the other can put you at risk for cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, or stroke.
According to The American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Because high cholesterol is many times symptomless, it is important to have regular screenings with your doctor, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
10 Tips for Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol:
- 1. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and prescribed treatment plan.
Your doctor may prescribe you medication or may advise you to change your diet and exercise more frequently. Whatever lifestyle changes are recommended, try to follow them to the best of your ability.
- 2. Be honest with yourself and your doctor.
Examine your lifestyle. Do you exercise as often as you should? Do you spend too much time in front of the television? Do you eat lots of fast foods? Examine your habits and answer these questions honestly. Share your concerns with your doctor.
- 3. Avoid tobacco smoke.
Quitting smoking can improve cholesterol. Discuss options with your doctor. If you are not a smoker, avoid second-hand tobacco smoke by choosing non-smoking facilities.
- 4. Keep a food diary.
Track what you eat for a period of time. This helps you gauge your healthy and unhealthy food intake. A food diary will help you recognize good and bad eating habits. You can also include meal times and portion sizes.
- 5. Find new recipes online.
There are many heart healthy recipes available online. Heart Healthy Living has a great collection of low cholesterol recipes. Try new recipes with your family and maybe you’ll discover some new favorites along the way! A heart healthy diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, fiber, lean meats and poultry. Eat fish at least twice a week and don’t forget your dairy products!
- 6. Substitute egg whites for whole eggs.
This is a simple yet effective way to reduce cholesterol in your diet, without losing protein. The yolk contains cholesterol. Use two egg whites for each whole egg. Ask for egg whites in your meals at restaurants.
- 7. Get off the couch!
Find ways to add activity into your day. Take your dog for a walk. Ride bikes with your children or grandchildren. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- 8. Check your cholesterol levels early.
The American Heart Association suggests beginning regular cholesterol checks at age 20. Even children should have their cholesterol checked if they come from a family with a history of high cholesterol.
- 9. Know the facts.
The American Heart Association has provided a list of common misconceptions about Cholesterol. Make sure you research the facts and ask your doctor if you have any questions.
- 10. Understand your options.
For some, a healthy lifestyle is not enough to reduce the risks of high cholesterol. Talk to your health care professional and research drug-treatment options for managing your cholesterol levels.
Get educated about cholesterol this September!
Medical News Today
The American Heart Association
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