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Want to Prevent High Cholesterol? See How @ HPFY

There are some health issues that we can control and some that we cannot. Of the ones that we can help control, high cholesterol may be the most important one. Cholesterol is a natural oil-based substance that is found in all of our cells and the food we eat. We have all been warned about the dangers of high cholesterol in our diet, but do we truly understand the health risks associated with high cholesterol and how to possibly prevent high cholesterol? 

          national cholesterol education program cholesterol guidelines 

Cholesterol Level and Dangers

Everyone has heard the term cholesterol, but what exactly is it? Your blood cholesterol is the level of lipoprotein in your bloodstream. You may have heard the terms “good” or “bad” cholesterol and this refers to the levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) or good cholesterol and levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. The chart above gives the range of average levels should try to achieve in your bloodstream. Negative effects of having high levels of LDLs in your bloodstream include:

  • Atherosclerosis: Overtime your arteries can narrow and your artery walls can harden. The formation of deposits (plaque) can lead to arterial blockage and/or the rupture of blood vessels.
  • Increased Heart Strain: High levels of cholesterol can strain your heart muscle due to vascular disease. As your arteries narrow, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your blood vessels, therefore increasing your heart rate.
  • Stomach/Abdominal Pain: Along with plaque deposits that accumulate in your arteries, they can also develop in your ligaments, skin, and even your liver or spleen. It’s the enlargement of your liver or spleen that can place pressure on other organs in your abdominal cavity. If you develop this pain with high cholesterol you should seek medical help from your doctor.
  • Increased Stroke Risk: High levels of cholesterol increases your risk of stroke. A stroke is a condition in which oxygen is reduced to your brain due to a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel. A stroke can be a life-threatening situation and medical assistance is needed ASAP!!

How To Fight High Cholesterol?

Okay, we now know what cholesterol can do to us so how do we prevent high cholesterol levels in our blood? Your doctor may prescribe medication (statins) such as Lipitor to control your high cholesterol, but there are other ways to help reduce high cholesterol in conjunction with prescribed medication. They can include:

  • Eat Better: This may be one of the more important and effective ways to reduce high cholesterol and LDL. By reducing saturated fat and eating heart healthy foods you can help lower your LDL numbers. There are foods that naturally decrease cholesterol will such as fish, nuts, and beans. Try oatmeal for breakfast since it’s one of the best cholesterol-lowering foods available and stop cooking with butter/margarine and use healthier oils such as canola or sunflower oil. Of course, you should try to introduce more fruits and vegetables every day!!
  • Exercise: You should increase your physical activity and exercise on a regular basis. Exercise lowers your triglycerides which can be linked to coronary disease. Aerobic exercise can lower your LDL by 5%-10% and raise your HDL by 3%-6%. Aerobic activity can include jogging, running, or even a Zumba class.
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  • Quit Smoking: Smoking cigarettes is a completely unhealthy habit and can negatively affect your cholesterol levels. Smoking can also lead to plaque buildup in your arteries which when combined with plaque deposits from high cholesterol can lead to strokes or blocked arteries. It is always a good idea to stop smoking, but for those with high cholesterol it is doubly important.
  • Weight Loss: Weight gain (even a little bit) can contribute to high cholesterol in your blood system. Being overweight increases your risk of having higher levels of LDL. Weight loss tips can include switching from unhealthy snacks to carrot sticks, apples or even blueberries. Switch from white breads to whole-wheat grains and stay away from sugary soft drinks for proper weight management.

 

Preventing high cholesterol can be multifaceted approach. While your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your cholesterol, you should take proactive steps to lower your risk of high cholesterol. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise along with medication are double-barreled approach to avoiding dangerous high cholesterol.

 

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