When it comes to heart health, it is important to understand your cholesterol levels. This includes understanding what the numbers mean, how they affect your health, and how to manage them. Having an understanding of your cholesterol levels will help you make informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle that can ultimately benefit your overall heart health.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the fats in our body, as well as some foods we eat. It is essential for the proper functioning of cells and hormones. However, having too much or too little cholesterol can be unhealthy for our bodies and increase our risk for heart disease. Knowing what your cholesterol levels are can help you stay in control of your heart health.
Good vs Bad Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol – good (HDL) and bad (LDL). HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. High HDL levels are considered “good” because they help remove bad cholesterol from the blood vessels while low LDL levels are considered “bad” because they can build up in the arteries and cause blockages. To maintain a healthy balance between good and bad cholesterol, it's important to monitor both types on a regular basis.
How to Manage Your Cholesterol Levels
To keep your cholesterol levels balanced, it is important to make sure you have a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado oil. Additionally it can be beneficial to limit processed foods that contain saturated fats or trans fats which are known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Regular exercise is also advised since cardiovascular activity helps keep LDL at bay while increasing HDL in the bloodstream. Lastly quitting smoking has been proven to reduce total cholesterol by up to 10%.
Understanding your own cholesterol numbers can be intimidating at first but it doesn't have to be! With a basic understanding of what these numbers mean for your overall heart health you can make more informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle that will ultimately benefit both short term & long term health goals. Eating right & exercising regularly along with avoiding smoking & other unhealthy habits should become part of any routine if you want to properly manage & maintain healthy cholesterol levels over time!
Northeast Missouri Health Council, Partners for a lifetime of health
Medical, Dental, and Behavioral Clinics in Kirksville, Missouri, Macon, Missouri, Milan, Missouri, and Kahoka, Missouri. Visit our website to find the nearest clinic to you. www.nemohealthcouncil.com