One of the things that September is, is Awareness Month. Do you know what your numbers are? Knowing your cholesterol numbers is very important. You have four numbers that you should know. Your overall cholesterol, your HDL, LDL and triglycerides. High-density lipoprotein or HDL is the good cholesterol that you want in your blood. The benefit is that is carries the bad cholesterol back to the liver there-by cleansing the bloodstream of the bad cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is the bad cholesterol. The higher the level is of your LDL, the higher your risk is of a heart attack. When the level of LDL goes up the excess can stick to artery walls. This causes damage and a build-up called plaque. Plaque can cause the arteries to harden and narrow. If the plaque becomes unstable a blood clot can form, suddenly blocking an artery causing either a heart attack or stroke. Triglycerides are another form of fat in the blood. Just as with HDL and LDL your body makes triglycerides and also gets them from foods you eat. Foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats can raise triglyceride levels. In addition, if you eat more calories than you burn, it can also raise your triglyceride levels.
Are there ways to manage high cholesterol? The answer is yes, most definitely. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Increase HDL (good) cholesterol and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol by getting regular aerobic exercise. Exercise also helps relax arteries and lower blood pressure.
2. Lower LDL by eating foods low in saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats. You can replace these bad foods with foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This means eating fish with Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon. In addition, eating soluble fibers–such as oats, pectin and psyllium will help reduce LDL cholesterol.
3. Medications such as statins help lower LDL levels. They also help lower triglycerides and slightly increase HDL levels. Statins reduce the risk of heart attack in many people.
If your cholesterol is high it will take time and effort to improve your numbers. You should count at least three months of lifestyle changes, and for some people medication as well. The results though, a healthier heart and a lower risk of stroke or heart attack. Aren’t you worth it to know your numbers and take care of yourself? I think so and so do the ones who love you!