If your cholesterol levels are high, you must curb it by adopting some lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise, weight loss and drugs can help you.
The “cholesterol talk” frightens everyone alike. And it should! After all high cholesterol poses immense health risks. National Institutes of Health recommends that everyone age 20 and older should have his or her cholesterol measured at least once every five years.
A blood test called a lipoprotein panel can help show whether you're at risk for coronary heart disease by looking at substances in your blood that carry cholesterol. This blood test is done after a 9-to-12-hour fast (no eating) and gives information about your:
- Total cholesterol– It is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- LDL (bad) cholesterol– It is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries.
- HDL (good) cholesterol–HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries.
- Triglycerides– This is another form of fat in your blood that can raise your risk for heart disease.
If your cholesterol levels are high, you must curb it by adopting some lifestyle changes. These modifications are far more effective in dealing with high cholesterol than they are believed to be. However, not enough people give them a real chance.
Dealing with High Cholesterol with Right Diet
If you are confused about what to eat and what not to eat because your diet has a direct effect on cholesterol, here is a rundown:
If you have high cholesterol, you should cut down on saturated fat found in fatty meats and whole milk dairies products like cheese, ice cream, and butter.
However, there are a number of foods with healthy unsaturated fats that will actually improve your cholesterol. They include fatty fish like tuna and salmon, walnuts, and almonds. But, eat them in moderation as they are high in calories.
The importance of counting your calories is often overlooked by people with high cholesterol. No matter how much or how little fat or cholesterol is in a food, its calories still add up. Eating too much of it can lead to weight gain, and that increases your risk of high cholesterol.
High Cholesterol Foods
Experts have long urged people with high cholesterol to shun foods loaded with cholesterol, like egg yolks, shrimp, and organ meats. Also, don't assume that a food labelled "cholesterol-free" is necessarily good for you.
Dealing with High Cholesterol with Exercise
Mayo Clinic says, whether you're overweight or not, exercise can reduce cholesterol. Better yet, a moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol. With your doctor's OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Remember that adding physical activity, even in 10-minute intervals several times a day can help you begin to lose weight. Just be sure that you can keep up the changes you decide to make. Consider:
- Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
- Riding your bike to work
- Swimming laps
- Playing a favourite sport
- Taking an aerobics class
- Using weight machines or lifting free weights to build muscle tone.
Dealing with High Cholesterol with Weight Loss
Carrying some extra pounds, even just a few, contributes to high cholesterol. Losing even 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help significantly to reduce cholesterol levels.
Start by taking an honest, thorough look at your eating habits and daily routine. Consider your challenges to weight loss and ways to overcome them.
Dealing with High Cholesterol with Medications
Even if you begin drug treatment to lower your cholesterol, you will need to continue your treatment with lifestyle changes. This will keep the dose of medicine as low as possible, and lower your risk in other ways as well. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including:
- Statins, which block the liver from making cholesterol.
- Bile acid sequestrants, which decrease the amount of fat absorbed from food.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors, which decrease the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food and lower triglycerides.
- Vitamins and supplements—Niacin, which blocks the liver from removing HDL and lowers triglycerides, and omega-3 fatty acids, which increase the level of HDL and lowers triglycerides.
However, it is advised not to take any medications without consulting your general practitioner. Also, people with high cholesterol must get themselves screened for any heart ailments.
Read more articles on High Cholesterol.
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