How many of you made a New Year’s resolution? Maybe it was to start an exercise program. Maybe it was to eat healthier. Maybe it was to lower your cholesterol. If that’s the case, then read on because we’re going to talk about what cholesterol is and ways to lower it this New Year’s season.
First, cholesterol is an important part of your body. It helps to keep the membranes of your cells soft and fluid and it is the precursor to many of your hormones. Believe it or not, you don’t want to be too low on cholesterol -- although you don’t want to be too high, either.
Too much cholesterol causes problems in your arteries by building up and causing blockages. It can quickly lead to heart disease and even a heart attack. When you have your cholesterol tested, your healthcare provider is looking at the two forms, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and they are very different.
The LDL form takes cholesterol from the liver and circulates it around the blood stream where it can build up and form plaque. This is why LDL is often deemed the “bad” cholesterol. The HDL form takes cholesterol from out in your blood stream and puts it back into your liver for processing. This clean-up ability is why the HDL is often called your “good” cholesterol.
Ideally your LDL levels are under 100mg/dl and your HDL is above 50 mg/dl.
Another marker not commonly run, although very important, is called the Lp(a) or Lipoprotein (a). It is a variation of the LDL and if elevated means you have an increased risk for developing atherosclerosis. This test is becoming much more popular amongst the advanced cholesterol tests. Ask your provider to have it tested.
Cholesterol comes from two sources -– your diet and your liver. If your healthcare provider is telling you to lower your cholesterol then you need to start with what you put in your mouth. Go for high fiber foods or consider adding fiber to your diet to help bind up the excess cholesterol. Humans need about 30-50grams of fiber per day for our health. Eat more fruits and vegetables and less of the junk food such as high sugar and high fat meals.