Your cholesterol is linked to your heart health. For instance, high levels put your heart at risk for heart disease, but bringing the levels down can lead to a healthier heart and life.
What is Cholesterol?
Firstly, cholesterol is a lipoprotein – a protein/fat combo. It plays a role in building cells, insulating nerves, and producing hormones. Your liver makes cholesterol or cholesterin, but you can also get it from your diet. For example, it’s found in foods like meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Your body needs cholesterin. However, too much can lead to heart disease and other complications.
Atherosclerosis is a type of heart disease. That is to say, you have a buildup of plaque in your arteries made of cholesterol, triglycerides, and other fats. As a result, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol—chances are you’ve heard of “good” and “bad” forms of the lipoprotein.
Firstly, LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterin. To clarify, LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This comes from foods high in trans and saturated fat or foods that are processed or deep-fried. It’s LDL cholesterin that clogs your arteries.
In addition, HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, cholesterin is the “good” cholesterin. To clarify, you get HDL cholesterin from foods with healthy fats. For example, fatty fish, nuts, and avocados are all great for you. In addition, HDL cholesterin also helps lower LDL cholesterin levels, so it’s doubly helpful.
Do you know what your cholesterin level is? Or, if you heard the numbers from your doctor, would you know what they mean? It’s essential to get your levels checked often, because you may not even know you have high cholesterin.
Here’s a guide to cholesterin measurements and what they mean:
|Less than 200||Desirable|
|200 – 239||Borderline|
|240 or more||High|
|Less than 100||Optimal|
|100 – 129||Near-optimal|
|130 – 159||Borderline|
|150 – 189||High|
|190 or more||Very high|
|60 or more||Desirable|
|Less than 40||Increases risk of heart disease|
Above all, remember that with HDL cholesterin, higher numbers are better.
To get your cholesterol level checked, you will need to go to your doctor to get a blood test. Your doctor will talk with you about your cholesterin levels and what you can do to get in the optimal range.
There may be inherited traits or physical factors that will influence your cholesterin readings. It’s essential to be aware of these—if you are at a higher risk for heart disease, you will want to get your cholesterol checked more frequently.
- Age – cholesterol levels rise, and plaque builds as we age
- Gender – men tend to have higher cholesterin until women reach menopause; after menopause, LDL cholesterin increases for women
- Diet – eating foods high in trans fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol in food increases cholesterol. Increasing fiber and plant sterols can lower LDL cholesterol.
- Weight – being overweight can increase cholesterol, as well as increase the risk of heart disease. Keeping a healthy weight will lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Family History – high blood cholesterin can run in the family; having close family members with high cholesterol increases your risk.
- Medical Conditions – some conditions like hypothyroidism, liver disease, and kidney disease can cause blood cholesterol levels to rise.
- Medications – some medications like steroids or progestins can increase LDL cholesterin and decrease HDL cholesterol.
Lower Your Cholesterol
Eliminate trans fats
Sometimes this is labeled as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” To clarify, trans fats will raise your overall cholesterol. This is detrimental to people’s health—so much so that the Food and Drug Administration does not recognize the fat as safe.
Avoid saturated fats
Saturated fats are found in red meat and full-fat dairy products. These raise your total cholesterol. Try to limit your saturated fat intake by limiting meat and choosing low-fat dairy options.
Include Omega-3 Fatty acids
This is a healthy fat that is beneficial for you for many reasons. It doesn’t raise LDL cholesterol, helps lower your blood pressure, and is beneficial for your brain. Foods include salmon, mackerel, herring, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
Eat soluble fiber foods
Foods like oatmeal, kidney beans, apples, pears, and Brussels sprouts have soluble fiber. This can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your blood.
Consider whey protein
Whey protein is found in many dairy products. Some studies suggest that whey protein reduces LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Get regular physical activity
This can help your body naturally raise HDL cholesterol. Get at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. For example, incorporate walks or bike riding into your work schedule. Do activities that you actually enjoy doing if hitting the gym creates a lack of motivation. Don’t make working out a chore! If you have health concerns, talk with your doctor about what exercises are best for you.
Smoking contributes to plaque buildup and high blood pressure. You can lower your risk of heart disease and other complications by quitting.
Maintain a healthy weight
Extra weight can increase cholesterin and can indicate a poor diet. However, eating a healthy diet, controlling portion sizes, and regular physical activity are all important in maintaining a healthy weight. Find healthy foods you enjoy.
Consider heart-healthy supplements
Supplementing with soluble fiber, omega-3s, garlic, and turmeric can naturally decrease cholesterin. In addition, beetroot powder can open your blood vessels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Most importantly, Heartbeet Complete contains both turmeric and beetroot powder!
Talk to your doctor about medication
If lifestyle changes don’t work, talk with your doctor about other options. He or she may recommend a cholesterin medication. However, keep in mind that some cholesterin medications can have other side effects. But, do try natural methods first.
Cholesterin medications include statins, niacin, bile-acid resins, fibric acid derivatives, and cholesterin absorption inhibitors.
The Bottom Line
In short, cholesterol is something you need, but too much of it can increase your risk of heart disease and other complications. In conclusion, it’s essential to know your risk, get your cholesterin checked regularly, and do what is in your power to lower it.