Cholesterol plays a vital role in your body. It helps build healthy cells, and it works as a precursor to vitamin D and steroid hormones. However, balance is key. Both low cholesterol and high cholesterol can lead to complications.
There are several types of blood cholesterol, with the most notable being the following: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
Not all cholesterol is made equal. Ideally, you want the “bad” cholesterol, LDL, to be under 100 and the triglycerides, the amount of fat in your blood, to be under 150. For HDL, the “good” cholesterol, a higher value is better. HDL levels should be at least 40 for men and 50+ for women.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol levels, read on. We asked our experts from Casa de Salud to share 5 tips for lowering your cholesterol.
1. Eliminate trans fats from your diet
Trans fats are used as a cheaper alternative to butter, lard, and tallow. Unfortunately, they’re linked to heart attacks, and since trans fats are present in many foods — including bakery goods, biscuits, margarine — you don’t need to buy vegetable shortening to expose yourself to them.
The danger of trans fats is so great that the Food and Drug Administration has banned trans fats for use in foods. Right now there are some products on the shelves that still contain trans fats though, so read the ingredients labels. If you see hydrogenated oils, the food has trans fats.
2. Stop smoking
Smoking raises your bad cholesterol and your triglycerides. To make matters worse, cigarettes also lower good cholesterol, which plays a protective role against plaque buildup in your arteries. Fortunately, cholesterol levels improve within weeks after quitting cigarettes.
3. Be more active
A more active lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to start your day with a jog in the park. Something as gentle on the body as walking every day for at least 45 minutes, cleaning the house for one hour, or playing with your children and pets is enough to keep the blood pumping.
4. Lose weight
Losing extra inches on your waist not only normalizes your cholesterol, but it can also help you prevent other diseases, such as diabetes. To lose weight, you’ll need to eat below your caloric maintenance, meaning you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume.
A simple change such as quitting soda, fast food, and/or sweets can help you lose weight faster.
5. Increase your omega-3 intake
Your body requires some omega-6 fatty acids to function optimally. Unfortunately, many experts believe that there’s too much of it in modern diets, and that we need more omega-3 fats for good health.
If you want to improve your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, consider lowering your consumption of foods containing high amounts of omega-6, which includes processed foods and snacks containing vegetable and seed oils that come from corn, cottonseed, soybeans, and sunflower seeds.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon and other fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
Do you know your cholesterol numbers?
High cholesterol is often a red flag for heart disease and atherosclerosis. But the only way to know if your cholesterol numbers is to get a simple blood test called a lipid profile.
If you want to find out what your numbers mean and how you can reduce your risk for complications, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our two Los Angeles offices in downtown and Adams Normandie.