You often hear cholesterol being thrown around in health articles or in your conversations with your physician. What exactly do your cholesterol levels mean for you heart health? Let’s break it down.
Cholesterol can affect your heart health because it circulates through your blood stream. If your body has too much cholesterol, it could build up and form plaque that develops into blockages in your arteries. This could result in inadequate blood flow to the heart, which could lead to coronary heart disease.
So how do you protect yourself? There are two cholesterol measurements in the blood stream that should be monitored, LDL and HDL. LDL is bad cholesterol. HDL is good cholesterol. When your LDL levels are high, this is when you are at risk of forming plaque in your arteries. The American Heart Association has listed the following ways to lower your LDL levels:
Exercise a total of at least 150 minutes a week – this can be as simple as five 30 minute walks a week, or any cardio activity of your choice.
- Stop smoking – take the time to discuss quitting techniques with your doctor. There are tools such as skin patches, chewing gum, and lozenges to help you quit. The benefits of quitting far outweigh the challenge of it.
- Lower trans-fat intake – trans-fats will be listed as “partially hydrogenated oils” on food labels. These fats are mostly found in highly processed foods such as fried foods, cookies, margarine, etc.
- Weight loss – According to Mayo Clinic, losing just five to ten pounds can lower your cholesterol. A healthy diet combined with weight loss is an effective way to take charge of your LDL levels!
With these techniques, you can lower your LDL (bad) and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol. You will also feel the overall benefits of living a healthy, active lifestyle!