Have you been diagnosed with high cholesterol? Also known as hypercholesterolemia, it’s a common condition from which over 102 million adults in the United States suffer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While many people brush off high cholesterol, believing it poses little or no risk to their health, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cholesterol itself is a fat-like substance that’s used by the human body for the synthesis of vitamin D and other essential nutrients. If there’s too much bad cholesterol in your blood, however, it can clog your blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your cholesterol levels and protect against these health problems.
Good vs Bad Cholesterol
There are two primary types of cholesterol, one of which is bad whereas the other is good. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good cholesterol because it relaxes the blood vessels and arteries, ensuring they don’t become too narrow and restrict the flow of blood. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), on the other hand, is considered bad cholesterol because it has the opposite effect by accumulating within the blood vessels and arteries, making them narrower and more susceptible to blockages.
Avoid Trans Fat
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of trans fat in packaged foods as well as restaurant foods, citing the substance’s link to thousands of heart disease-related deaths each year in the United States. Even with the new ban in place, countless foods still contain this harmful substance. And to improve your cholesterol levels, you must eliminate trans fat from your diet.
Trans fat, even when consumed in small amounts, can wreak havoc on your health. Also known as partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), it raises LDL cholesterol while also lowering HDL cholesterol. The combination of these effects clogs your blood vessels and arteries while paving the way for heart disease in the process.
If you’re overweight, focus on shedding those extra pounds to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Body weight and cholesterol levels are closely linked. Statistics show that overweight men and women who lose 10 pounds will improve their LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 8%.
To lose weight, try exercising for at least 75 minutes to 150 minutes each week, which is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). As you slim down, your cholesterol levels will improve, giving you the upper hand on the otherwise common condition. Just remember to maintain your new, healthy weight after you’ve achieved it. Otherwise, your cholesterol levels will go back up.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. According to one study, for every additional gram of fiber a person consumes, his or her LDL cholesterol levels will drop by 2.2 mg/dL. Fiber is essential in regulating cholesterol levels because it sweeps the fatty substance from your blood vessels and arteries. The problem is that most people don’t consume enough fiber in their diet. Some statistics suggest that up to 97% of adults in the United States are fiber deficient, placing them at risk for high cholesterol as well as heart disease and stroke.
Some of the best sources of fiber include:
- Whole grains
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Brussels sprouts
- Cereal (choose low-sugar cereal)
Eat More Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They provide a myriad of vitamins and essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly. Moreover, studies have shown that people who consume lots of fruits and veggies in their diet are less likely to suffer from high cholesterol than their counterparts who consume few or no fruits and veggies in their diet.
Focus on Healthy Fats
Certain types of fats may have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels. Trans fat should obviously be avoided because of its ability to raise LDL and lower HDL levels. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for your health because they lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol levels.
Healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are typically found in fish, nuts and olive oil (as well as other foods). By adding more of these foods to your diet, you’ll naturally improve your cholesterol levels to achieve better health.
Get Your Cholesterol Levels Tested
You can’t expect to get your cholesterol levels under control unless you know your exact HDL and LDL levels. Therefore, you’ll need to have your cholesterol levels tested by a medical practitioner. After taking a sample of your blood – typically after a period of fasting – your medical practitioner will analyze your blood’s cholesterol to determine your HDL and LDL levels.
To learn more about Atlanta Chiro and Wellness’s integrative medicine services, contact us today.Share