Cholesterol High Lifestyle

High cholesterol can cause a number of health problems, including heart attacks and strokes. Luckily, however, there are a number of steps you can take to keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range for your age and gender.

Cholesterol Explained

Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance that is found in our bodies. It helps our bodies produce cell membranes, helps in the formation of certain hormones and also helps our bodies perform certain functions.

Cholesterol is made by our bodies, but it also comes from the foods we eat. Our livers and cells are responsible for approximately 75 percent of our blood cholesterol. Approximately 25 percent of the cholesterol in our blood comes from food.

While cholesterol is necessary, too much of it can put us at risk for major health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol-Lowering Tips: Exercise, Diet and More

The following tips will not only help control your cholesterol levels but will also help contribute to overall health:

  • Avoid Certain Foods: Try to limit foods and beverages that contain a high number of calories but a low percentage of nutrients. In addition, limit foods and beverages that are high in saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium. In order to monitor your intake of these substances, read food labels carefully.
  • Avoid Cigarettes and Other Tobacco-Based Products: Cigarettes and other tobacco-based products can damage the body in a number of ways, putting stress on many of the body’s systems and functions.

    To stay as healthy as possible, quit smoking or using tobacco products if you currently use them. Your doctor can provide you with information on strategies that can help you quit. If you don’t use tobacco products, don’t start. In addition, avoid being exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.

  • Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods: To ensure your body is getting the nutrients it requires, be sure that you are getting plenty of nutrient-rich foods in your diet. Nutrient-rich foods are the ones that contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and other key elements but that are low in calories. Nutrient-rich foods include:
    • Fish: Many doctors suggest eating fish at least twice a week. Oily fish, including salmon and trout, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are very beneficial to your health.
    • Fruits and Vegetables: Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will provide your body with a number of necessary nutrients. In addition, these foods can help you control your weight and can lower blood pressure.
    • Whole-Grain Food Products: Whole-grain foods can help lower your blood cholesterol and can help keep you feeling full, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get Plenty of Exercise: To help your body burn excess calories and to keep your heart, lungs and other organs in shape, exercise on a regular basis. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. It’s even better if you can get 30 minutes of exercise every day of the week.

    If you can’t fit 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule, you can divide your workouts into three 10-minute sessions. In addition to aerobic exercises (walking, jogging, swimming, etc.), try incorporating light weightlifting into your exercise routine.

Resources

American Heart Association, Inc. (2007). Our 2006 Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. Retrieved October 22, 2007, from the American Heart Association Web site: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=851.