Cholesterol is an important chemical in the body, however, it is easy to get too much of a good thing. 1 in 3 adults in the US has high cholesterol which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. High cholesterol is a common, but dangerous health problem that requires management to control.
Here are some easy ways to manage high cholesterol:
1. Limit unhealthy fats
Controlling the amount of unhealthy fats in your diet is an integral step for managing cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fats can raise LDL levels of cholesterol. Trans fats are also terrible for the body because they increase LDL levels and lower HDL. To control levels of saturated fat and trans fats avoid fatty foods, dairy products, and fried foods. To keep trans levels down, avoid food with hydrogenated oils, including margarine.
2. Know your numbers
It is important to know your numbers. Understanding the difference between LDL cholesterol vs. HDL cholesterol levels is an important step in managing your cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, helps to keep levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, in check. A blood test called a lipid panel can be used to measure cholesterol levels.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids aids in the control of cholesterol levels. Fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna, can increase levels of HDL. Omega-3 fatty acids also help protect the heart from blood clots and inflammation. Eating fatty fish two times a week can help control cholesterol.
4. Increase fiber intake
A diet high in fiber helps keep cholesterol lower. Soluble fiber can stop your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. Foods high in fiber include whole grain products, such as oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables. Plant foods contain no cholesterol and are a big help in managing cholesterol.
5. Exercise and working out
Exercise is helpful for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Physical activity helps raise HDL levels. It is recommended to engage in moderate exercise three times a week to raise levels of good cholesterol. Taking a walk or riding a bike are easy ways to get started in exercising and moving the body.
6. Weight management
Obesity can be a risk factor for high cholesterol. Maintaining a healthy weight can be a big part of keeping cholesterol levels within a healthy range. Extra weight, even a few pounds, can add to high cholesterol.
7. Quit smoking and limit alcohol
Smoking can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels. HDL, the good cholesterol, increases when people who smoke give up the habit. The benefits of smoking cessation occur rapidly.
Avoid excessive alcohol if you want to keep good cholesterol levels. Alcohol strains the liver which is the key organ involved in maintaining healthy cholesterol numbers. Taking extra care to protect this vital organ can help cholesterol levels.