Few Tips on Lowering Cholesterol Levels

Tips on Lowering Cholesterol Levels

Is Your Number Up?

Eggs, whole milk, french fries and beef have something in common—they all contribute to high levels of cholesterol. With an estimated 97 million American adults with blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dl or over, cholesterol remains an important issue for many Americans.

This waxy, fat-like substance can be found in every cell of the human body. While there are many important functions of cholesterol such as digesting fat, strengthening cell membranes and making hormones, problems such as heart disease, obesity and stroke, begin when cholesterol levels reach a high point. When levels are high, build-up forms on the artery walls, making it difficult for blood to flow.

There are two major lipoproteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body – low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL, the "bad" cholesterol contributes to most of the build-up on artery walls. Decreasing LDL means decreasing the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, HDL, the "good" cholesterol, makes up smaller amounts of cholesterol carriers and transports the substance to the liver to be metabolized.

Cholesterol levels should be checked as part of a physical exam to avoid leading to serious diseases. If parents are concerned about checking their children’s cholesterol levels, they should consult with their family physician or pediatrician. For people 20 years and older, blood cholesterol should be checked at least once every five years. These tests consist of three readings: total cholesterol, LDL and HDL. You should not simply focus on the total cholesterol level because there are recommended levels for LDL and HDL as well as for total cholesterol.

How can I control cholesterol levels?

There are several controllable factors that can influence cholesterol levels. For instance, exercising more can decrease the LDL levels while increasing HDL levels. The best type of exercise for lowering cholesterol is aerobic exercise where large muscle groups endure continuous, rhythmical movement. In order to achieve the greatest effect, it is recommended that this level of activity be performed at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Other factors to consider include weight control and diet.

Many people believe that a fat-free diet alone is the most health-conscious way of eating, but that is not the case. People need to pay attention to the type of fat they are consuming. Saturated fat is the worst fat to consume and is found in beef, pork and butter. Monounsaturated fat, found in canola and olive oil, is much healthier.

While it may be difficult to reduce cholesterol and saturated fat from your diets, remind yourselves of the benefits of lower cholesterol levels. Controlling the intake of cholesterol allows you to take better control of your health by slowing down the fatty build-up in arteries and decreasing risk of heart attack.

The average American consumes about 350-450 mg of cholesterol every day with fat being about 35-40 percent of total caloric intake. Recommended consumption levels are less than 300 mg of cholesterol with fat being 30 percent of total calories.

LDL="bad cholesterol"
HDL="good cholesterol"

Recommended goals for individuals without risk factors:

Total Cholesterol: less than 200mg/dl

LDL
less than 130 mg/dl

HDL
more than 35mg/dl

If readings are above or below, or if you have risk factors, please consult your physician.

Watch what you eat, exercise more, and you can be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

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