High blood cholesterol levels is a serious condition that can affect anyone. High cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of Americans, of both men and women. The higher the cholesterol levels, the greater your risk.
Now for a some good news. If you have high cholesterol levels, there are actions you can take to lower the level and protect your health.
Risk Factors That You Can not Change:
- Heredity is one of those things you can not change. As the saying goes "You can choose your friends, but you can not choose your relatives!" As far as having high cholesterol sometimes it is in your genes, however, you can take action to lower your cholesterol even if this is the case.
- Age is another factor that is out of your control. Blood cholesterol levels begin to rise at about the age of 20 and continues to rise until about the age of 60 to 65.
Risk Factors That You Can Change:
- Your diet is something you have control over. Never forget that. There are three nutrients that cause your LDL levels to rise.
- Saturated Fat is one, and it is found mostly in foods that come from animals.
- Trans Fat is found in cooking oils, margarine, and foods such as french fries.
- Cholesterol intake can be controlled by limiting saturated fat in your diet. This raises cholesterol levels more than anything in your diet.
- Being overweight also contributes to higher cholesterol levels, and it also causes many other health issues.
The Metabolic Syndrome
This is not termed as a disease, but it is a group of factors to consider that increase your risk of heart disease, and other disorders like diabetes. Here is a list of the factors that are included to help you determine for yourself if this is a risk for you. If you have three of more of these in place you have the Metabolic Syndrome.
- A waist measurement of 35 inches or more for women, and a measurement of 40 inches or more for men
- A triglyceride level of 150 mg / dL or higher
- HDL cholesterol level of less than 50 mg / dL in women and less than 40 mg / dL in men
- If your blood pressure reading is 130/85 mmHg or higher. (It matters if either number is higher)
- Fasting blood sugar reading of 100 mg / dL or higher
Ways to lower Your Cholesterol
Change your habits by changing your thoughts. If you think you can not change your lifestyle then you are absolutely defeated before you start. If you think you can change your lifestyle then you will. It's a choice, and it is your choice!
Make the decision first to educate yourself. As you learn what to do by reading articles, take action by applying what you learn, you can create a healthy life for you and your loved ones.
A Better Diet to Lower Cholesterol
The foods you choose to eat are a great place to start. Create a plan for yourself. If you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. I know these are harsh words, but they are so true.
You are worth it, so get busy and plan your new diet today!
Here are some guidelines that might help you:
- Have less than 7% of your daily calories from planned fat
- Limit your daily intake of cholesterol to 200 mg
- Have less than 25-35 percent of calories from fat
- Things to include into your diet are:
- 2 grams per day of plant stanols or sterols
- 10-25 grams of soluble fiber per day Just enough calories to maintain a healthy weight
- Also include 30 minutes per day of moderate physical exercise as often as possible
Cholesterol Lowering Drugs
I know that many people are currently taking prescription drugs to regulate cholesterol levels. Some of the most commonly prescribed are statins. Statins are used to stop an enzyme that controls the rate that the body produces cholesterol. Some of the common names are lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, fluvastatin, atorvastatin, and rosuvastatin. They lower the levels of LDL about 20-55 percent, which is more than other types of drugs, and also lower triglycerides and raise HDL.
Ezetimibe is a drug that is used for reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by the body. It can lower the LDL by about 18-25 percent. Bile acid resins are used to bind with cholesterol containing bile acids in the intestines and are eliminated from the body in the stool. Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid is a vitamin B that should be taken only under a doctor's care. Fibrates are used to lower triglycerides.
Lowering Cholesterol Without Medication
One of the safest ways to lower cholesterol is the use of plant stanols and sterols. They are present in small amounts in many plants. Plant stanols and sterols help block the cholesterol from absorbing in the digestive tract, lowering the LDL without affecting the triglycerides or HDL. A daily intake of about 2 grams of either stanols or sterols can reduce LDL cholesterol by 5-15 percent.
There are some great natural supplements that are available that will provide the beneficial amounts of sterols and stanols. This is a great alternative to prescription medications, which can have many side effects.
Add Fiber To Your Diet
Adding soluble fiber to your diet can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. It is also very helpful to your digestive tract, and for over all good health.
Also, eating foods that are high in fiber will help you to eat less because you will feel full sooner, which means you will take in fewer calories.
Limit Your Salt Intake
Lowering your use of salt in your diet will be helpful also. This will help in your goal to lose weight, and if you are dealing with high blood pressure cutting down on the use of salt will help you too.
Many processed foods are very high in sodium, which is why many people have difficulty in changing this habit. We get used to the taste, and again it comes back to the choices we make.
Choosing to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables is a great solution. Many people eat canned fruits and vegetables thinking they are a healthy choice, but the sodium content is very high in many cases. Best advice is to become a label reader.
Pretty simple stuff in theory, it's just deciding what you want to achieve.
Physical Activity Is A Must Also
Now for the big adjustment for many people. The dreaded exercise routine. Physical activity is a must. Find something you can do that you like and will be consistent with. Find a partner to exercise with, this is a great way to keep each other accountable.
Physical activity will give your body that extra boost to keep you focused on your new lifestyle and habits. It will lower your stress levels and as you see physical changes in your body you will want to do more.
Again, it's all about choices and you have the power within you to choose what is best for you. Trust your instincts. That is what they are for, and we all have them deep inside of us.