Cholesterol is a necessary substance in your body that helps regulate many metabolic processes, but having high cholesterol can put you at risk for serious health issues. You can maintain healthy cholesterol levels through a few simple steps.
First, it is beneficial to have a greater understanding of cholesterol. There are two different types of cholesterol, often labeled as “good” and “bad.” Essentially, you want to maintain certain levels of each, ensuring your bad cholesterol levels do not escalate too high, and that your good cholesterol levels do not dip too low.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is considered the “good guy” as it helps to move cholesterol to your liver so it can be eliminated from the body. Having proper levels of HDL will prevent plaque build-up in your arteries. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is known as bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL can lead to a variety of health issues, including those as serious as heart attack and stroke. Find out what steps you can take to ensure proper cholesterol levels through these healthy cholesterol tips.
Maintain a healthy weight
Having a higher than normal body mass index (BMI) poses a greater risk of developing high cholesterol. Reaching a BMI over 30 is considered obese, and this is where the greatest risk presents itself.
Exercising is the best solution. Not only will exercise reduce your BMI over time as you achieve a healthier weight, but exercise can also help you maintain better cholesterol levels. Working out consistently will increase the levels of good cholesterol, while also helping LDL become less dangerous.
However, simply being at a proper weight does not guarantee your cholesterol levels are acceptable. People who do not easily gain weight may not be as health-conscious when it comes to the foods they consume since they do not see a direct impact. This is why the next steps of eating heart-healthy foods and getting your cholesterol levels checked regularly after age 20 are of equal importance.
Eat a proper diet with heart-healthy foods
What you eat plays a major role in your cholesterol levels. Essentially, the best way to improve your cholesterol levels is to eat foods that lower LDL and avoid foods that increase your LDL levels.
Some of the best foods to eat that could be easily incorporated into a breakfast meal include oats and whole grains. The best fruits to eat are those high in pectin, including apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits. Vegetables like eggplant and okra are also helpful since they are rich in fiber. Additionally, a variety of nuts, soy-based foods, and fatty fish containing omega-3’s like salmon and tuna, are excellent foods to incorporate as well.
Conversely, there are certain foods that can be eliminated or reduced in your daily diet. Foods to avoid include those high in saturated fats and trans fats. Foods containing saturated fats include fatty red meats, eggs, and whole-fat dairy products. Some vegetable oils like palm oil and coconut oil have high levels of saturated fat as well.
There is currently a lot of debate about the role that saturated fats play on heart health since there are some positives to consuming them as well. However, it is best to limit your intake until there is undeniable evidence that they will not cause long- term damage. The Ketogenic diet, for example, is gaining popularity for its weight loss results that many have achieved on it. For years, we have had evidence showing that high levels of saturated fat can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries. If you opt to participate in this kind of high-fat diet, do your best to make it a salmon and avocado approach with foods that contain healthier fats, as opposed to a sausage and cream cheese diet.
Trans fat, on the other hand, is something that should be completely avoided. Trans fat is formed as a by-product of an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil, turning it into a solid. It is then used as a preservative to give foods longer shelf life and is often called partially hydrogenated oil.
Know your cholesterol levels and have them checked regularly
There are no obvious symptoms that will alert you when it comes to your cholesterol health. The risk factors discussed, like being overweight, and eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats, are things to be mindful of regarding your chances of developing high cholesterol. Additionally, if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease at a young age, you are at an increased risk of having these as well.
The best healthy cholesterol tips are to get regular check-ups! Search for a “family clinic near me in Arkansas” to schedule your cholesterol testing right away. There are two different types of cholesterol testing that can be performed: LDL panel testing and total panel testing. If your LDL shows 160 mg/dL or higher, your cholesterol is considered high. If your total lipid panel results are between 200 and 239 mg/dL, this is considered borderline high. Results of 240 mg/dL or higher fall into the high cholesterol category.
Having healthy cholesterol decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke. At ARcare, we can help you stay on top of your cholesterol health! We are here for you to help monitor your cholesterol, give nutritional guidance, and provide medication if necessary to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Give us a call at (866) 550-4719 or click here to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care physicians in Arkansas. Search for “a family clinic near me in Arkansas,” or simply click here to find a location near you.