By: Camesha Grant, MEd, CHES
Cholesterol is a type of fatty substance that is found in your blood. It is produced by the liver and is essential for your body to make healthy cells. Elevated levels of cholesterol can increase your probability of developing heart disease and stroke.
When you have high cholesterol, fatty deposits can form in your arteries. Over time these deposits grow and make it harder for blood to flow through your arteries. These deposits can break apart and form a clot that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
High cholesterol can be genetic, but more times than not, it is because of unhealthy lifestyle choices. This makes high cholesterol a disease that can be prevented and treated. Healthy Lifestyle choices along with regular exercise and medication compliance when needed can help lower high cholesterol.
The following are some lifestyle changes that can help manage and lower your cholesterol.
1. Eat less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol by choosing more of foods that come from plants and less of those from animals. Keep servings of meat,poultry and fish small. Limit red meats and fatty meats. Remove the skin from poultry and fish. Trim fat from meats before cooking. Limit organ meats like liver and kidney. Limit foods made with butter, lard and margarine as well as those made with tropical oils like coconut oil and palm oil. Avoid full fat dairy products. Limit eggs to only 4 per week. Eat less shellfish which is naturally high in cholesterol.
2. Choose foods that are high in fiber. A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol. Aim to get between 25-30 grams of fiber daily.
3. Move more and lose weight! Regular exercise along with even small amounts of weight loss can help manage and lower cholesterol levels.
4. Do not smoke and avoid second hand smoke.
5. Take all medications as prescribed.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. And although high cholesterol can often times be managed without the use of medications when adopting a healthier lifestyle, there are still cases in which medications are needed. Both family history and age are factors that may require medication and that’s why it is so important to Know Your Numbers!