In honor of September’s Cholesterol Awareness Month, we would like to provide you with information on this very important health topic. 71 million American adults have high cholesterol, but only ⅓ of that number have the condition under control. There are no symptoms, which makes it hard to diagnose. That’s why it's important to get your cholesterol screened every 5 years starting at the age of 20.
Do you know what cholesterol is? It is a waxy, fat-like substance that travels through your bloodstream in little bundles called lipoproteins. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D and substances that help you digest foods. Your body already makes all the cholesterol it needs, but we can get too much cholesterol from the foods we eat. When that happens, the cholesterol can build up in the walls of your arteries and create blockages. This leads to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
There are 2 kinds of cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is “good” cholesterol and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is bad or “Lousy” cholesterol. When you have high levels of LDL cholesterol, you have a greater chance of getting heart disease, but when you have high levels of HDL cholesterol, you have a lower chance of heart disease.
Eating foods with saturated fat or trans fat can increase the amount of LDL cholesterol. Having a healthy diet and lifestyle can help lower cholesterol and keep your numbers level. Eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, nuts, and whole grains. Limiting red meat and sugary foods and beverages is also a good idea. Aerobic exercise, 3 to 4 times a week, is also beneficial and can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure! Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke as well to help your cholesterol levels.
The American Heart Association recommends that when it comes to cholesterol, remember: Check, change, and control.
Check your cholesterol levels, It’s key to know your numbers and assess your risk.
Change your diet and lifestyle to help improve your levels
Control your cholesterol, with help from your doctor if needed
Going unchecked, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, which are some of the leading causes of death in the United States. Make it a priority this month to get a simple blood test done to check your cholesterol levels and take the necessary steps to lower it if necessary.
Source: American Heart Association What is Cholesterol? | American Heart Association