Why You Should Care About Cholesterol
Cholesterol is one of the fats in your blood. High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. By lowering your cholesterol, you can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Here are some tips to help you lower your cholesterol.
What is blood cholesterol?
Cholesterol is one of the fats in your blood. Your body uses it to make cell membranes, vitamin D and hormones. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – often called “bad” cholesterol because high levels of LDL-cholesterol in the blood promotes the build-up of plaque in the artery walls
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – called the “good” cholesterol because it helps carry LDL-cholesterol away from the artery walls
Triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol; however, they are a type of fat that is found in the blood. High triglycerides are linked with excess weight, excess alcohol consumption and diabetes. Your triglyceride level is usually measured at the same time as your blood cholesterol.
Why should you care?
High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. By lowering your cholesterol, you can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol can lead to a build up of plaque in the artery walls and narrow your arteries – called atherosclerosis – which can make it harder for blood to flow through your heart and body, putting you at increased risk of circulatory problems, heart disease and stroke.
Not managing your cholesterol also raises your risk of vision loss, organ damage (kidney and liver) and vascular dementia’s like Alzheimer’s
What can you do?
- Test your cholesterol. Know your numbers. Recheck you cholesterol.
- Get physically active. Being physically active most days of the week can improve “good” cholesterol levels.
- Be smoke-free. Smoking increases LDL “bad” blood cholesterol
- Know your fats and maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your fat intake to 20-35% of your daily calories.
- Choose healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, found mainly in vegetable oils, nuts and fish
- Limit your intake of saturated fat – found mainly in red meat and high-fat dairy products.
- Avoid trans fats – often found in foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, hard margarines, fast foods and many pre-made foods. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
- Eat more whole grains, cereals, vegetables and fruit.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 October 2009 )