Cholesterol and Disease Risk
Cardiovascular diseases and stroke are one of the top killers in the world today. What is common about these two is they have the same risk factors, one of which is high bad cholesterol levels. But what is cholesterol and what can you do about it?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is derived from the food that we eat; it can also come as waste materials from our body's physiological processes. In some people, eating a lot of fatty food cannot entirely predispose them to have high cholesterol levels, but in some people who have a certain enzymatic defect that runs in their families, even a small amount of fat that they take in the diet can make their cholesterol levels shoot up. If you are concerned that you may have abnormal cholesterol levels, here are some tips for you
Check Your Levels
Your cholesterol levels are no guessing game. They need to be checked every now and then. This is to ensure that you always have normal cholesterol levels and that you may not increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. According to guidelines, you should aim for a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and below. People who are aged 20 or older should have their cholesterol levels checked once every five years. If you have risks for cardiovascular disease, your doctor would recommend for more frequent testing.
Draft up a Plan
If you have already been diagnosed to have high total cholesterol levels, you should think of a plan for yourself and not just depend on your doctor's orders. You should asses what your risk factors are that can possibly lead to complications that may result from your high cholesterol levels. Know your family history and know whether your age is a high-risk factor for cardiovascular disease. You can improve your diet, quit smoking, or increase your physical activity. You can also combine conventional therapies with alternative therapies, upon approval of your doctor.
Shed Extra Pounds
Excess weight can actually be a huge risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Some people find that losing weight can normalize cholesterol levels. Initially aim to shed off about 5 to 10 pounds then gradually aim for more pounds until you reach a healthy weight. Avoid crash dieting as it may have harmful effects on your health. You can lose weight by decreasing your caloric intake and increasing your physical activity. Find out what type of physical activity suits you. You can walk, jog or engage in moderate intensity physical activities. These activities not only boost your strength and stamina but also elevate good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol levels. Aim to get at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week. Other activities you may try include running, jogging, jumping jack, bicycling or swimming.
Feed on the Good Fats
Get to know the sources of good fats such as avocados, peanut butter, nuts, olive oils and canola oils. These foods are rich in monounsaturated fat that can lower LDL and triglycerides in the body while raising HDL. Avoid eating too much saturated fat, the one found in meats, butter, full cream milk and cheese. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that are found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Eat a lot of fiber. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and can reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Fiber binds to cholesterol in bile acids and helps excrete it from the body. Soluble fibers such as pectin found in fruits and vegetables can also decrease appetite by making you feel full most of the time so that you cannot snack on food with empty calories.
Multivitamins such as folic acid and Vitamin B complex can help protect against heart disease, according to many studies.
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