What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance used by our bodies to make hormones and help digest food. Our bodies make all of the cholesterol we need, which is why it’s important not to eat a lot of food containing cholesterol. High cholesterol has no symptoms so you should get your blood checked every 4 to 6 years. Having high cholesterol is dangerous because it raises the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of deaths in the US. Since high cholesterol is such a dangerous problem, here are some ways you can make sure your cholesterol levels stay safe!
1. Change the way you eat
Cholesterol mainly comes in foods from animals, such as saturated fats. Eliminate all saturated and trans fats from your diet and increase foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Saturated fats are found in red meats and trans fats are found in store bought hydrogenated foods such as crackers, cookies, and cakes. Omega-3 fatty acids are present in foods like fish and walnuts. Eat more soluble fiber such as oatmeal and apples. And lastly, add whey protein from dairy products into your diet.
2. Exercise More
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Some great ways to exercise include a brisk walk, biking, swimming, or playing your favorite sport. It’s important to get your heart rate up and break a sweat regularly to stay healthy. A great way to stay motivated is by working out with a friend so you can both hold each other accountable.
3. Quit Smoking
After quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease decreases by 50 percent in a year. It also improves your HDL (good) cholesterol level. Within 20 minutes of quitting, the cigarette induced spike to your heart rate and blood pressure goes down. Within 3 months, blood circulation and lung function also improve. Your body begins to recover very quickly from quitting smoking
4. Reduce stress
Being overly stressed can cause cholesterol levels to raise rapidly. Try to avoid stress or reduce it as much as possible. Some activities to help reduce stress are spending time with loved ones, taking a yoga class, meditation, or spending time petting a dog. Laughing is also proven to increase HDL levels so watch a funny movie or read some jokes!
5. Cook with Healthy Oils Instead
Instead of using butter or margarine, try using healthy oils such as, olive oil or avocado oil. Oils that contain less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and no trans fats are highly recommended.