Lowering Your Cholesterol For Heart Health.
Welcome Health Investigator, Caitlin, for this special cholesterol and heart health tip sheet.
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Cholesterol isn’t always bad. In fact, there are actually two main types of cholesterol.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered “bad” cholesterol. This is the cholesterol that causes plaque buildup in your arteries and can lead to atherosclerosis. This, in turn, can lead to a high risk of a heart attack or stroke. The second main type of cholesterol is a high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which can actually benefit your heart and protect you from a heart attack or stroke. When thinking about heart health and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, you want to think about lowering your LDL and raising your HDL. So, what are some ways that we can do that?
Eat a Healthy Diet
Typically, people who eat a diet full of processed and fatty foods also suffer from high cholesterol. Foods high in LDL include foods high in saturated fats found in many dairy products like cheese and butter, red meats, and processed foods such as sausage or bologna. Trans fat as also to be avoided as they reduce your HDL and raise your LDL. You can find trans fat in baked goods or fried foods. While you should avoid these foods listed above, you should also be adding more healthy vegetables, beans, and whole grains to your diet. Look for foods that are high in soluble fiber and polyunsaturated fats. For more ideas, here are 11 foods that Harvard Medical School recommends to lower your cholesterol.
Did you know that exercise can increase your levels of HDL in your body? It’s true! Research in the Journal of Obesity found that even in overweight or obese patients, frequent exercise can help lower high cholesterol levels. Consider finding an aerobic activity like walking, jogging, swimming, biking or even dancing to participate in weekly. Aerobic activity is the most frequently recommended activity for heart health. Strength training or yoga are additional forms of exercise to consider. These can be just as effective in reducing a person’s cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.
In the event that you have dangerously high cholesterol, your doctor will certainly consider using medications to lower your cholesterol. Statins are most often prescribed to reduce high cholesterol. However, blood thinners are sometimes prescribed to patients with a history of blood clots. While both medications do their jobs well, they both also offer an added risk. Statins have a history of causing muscle and liver damage along with memory issues, and blood thinners have been known to cause severe bleeding. For example, thousands of patients taking the blood thinner Xarelto have filed lawsuits due to incidents of severe bleeding and death caused by the anticoagulant. It is also important to explore natural preventative measures like diet and exercise to reduce your cholesterol. This is, of course, in addition to other possible measures.
Making small changes to your daily diet and lifestyle routine can be incredibly impactful. As you make these changes, don’t forget to share your experiences with family and friends and encourage them to commit to similar healthy habits this year. With more awareness and effort to reduce risk factors, America has a chance to change our current heart disease statistics.