Achieving Cholesterol Zen Matters
Often described as a waxy substance, cholesterol plays a vital role in creating cells, hormones, and vitamins. However, cholesterol must be in a delicate balance for optimal health. An imbalance of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol can significantly impact heart health. Some American adults struggle with high cholesterol, increasing the risk for disease. Small lifestyle changes can help lower cholesterol and substantially impact long-term cardiovascular wellness.
LDL vs HDL
Commonly known as bad cholesterol, high LDL can lead to plaque formation in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, HDL is known as good cholesterol. This is because HDL helps transport cholesterol from the body to the liver for elimination. Both LDL and HDL are not actually cholesterol but lipoproteins that transport cholesterol and other fats throughout the body. LDL cholesterol delivers cholesterol from the liver to the cells in various tissues, including the arteries, while HDL takes excess LDL, cholesterol, and fats back to the liver for excretion or reprocessing. To maintain this delicate balance, 3 lifestyle changes can help.
1. Time to give up smoking?
Quitting smoking is the best lifestyle change to regulate cholesterol. Smoking can damage both the lungs and the heart. When someone smokes, harmful chemicals enter the bloodstream, which can cause inflammation and narrow the blood vessels. This can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL cholesterol. Quitting smoking will improve cholesterol levels and many other health markers.
2. Does diet and weight matter?
Cholesterol buildup is caused by a bad diet and a lack of exercise. Consuming excessive saturated and trans fats can raise LDL levels. Limit fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and fried foods for the best results. Instead, choose healthier sources of fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Maintaining a healthy weight can also help regulate cholesterol levels. Losing as little as 10lbs can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, promoting a healthier lipid profile.
3. Get active, get balanced
Regular aerobic activity is another effective lifestyle change to control cholesterol levels. Exercise helps increase HDL cholesterol, which aids in removing LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. Engaging in brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling for at least 150 minutes per week can positively impact cholesterol levels. Exercise also contributes to weight management, reduces blood pressure (BP), and improves cardiovascular health. Talk to a doctor before any exercise program, especially if pre-existing medical conditions exist.
Unlocking the key to lifelong wellness
A doctor can measure cholesterol levels via a lipid panel. This test can reveal if medication or further treatment is necessary. In some cases, lifestyle changes may be recommended to control cholesterol. Embracing these changes will pave the way for a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life. Remember that a healthier lifestyle requires commitment and consistency, but the long-term health benefits are well worth the effort.