Despite its reputation, cholesterol isn’t inherently bad—your body actually needs it to build cell walls, among other things. But it's waxy consistency means cholesterol needs help getting around the bloodstream from carriers known as lipoproteins, and that’s where things get interesting.
Lipoproteins come in two basic types, low density (LDL) and high density (HDL). HDL helps out by dragging cholesterol back to the liver for processing. But LDL can turn troublesome when it oxidizes, a bodily process similar to the rusting of a car.
Managing cholesterol levels, particularly LDL levels, is a basic part of maintaining heart health. Here are seven ways to help you do just that.
1. Know Your Risks (That Means You Too, Ladies)
You can’t control your cholesterol if you don’t know what your levels are. (Females, beware: Women are less likely than men to keep cholesterol within limits.) For LDL a reading over 100 is not good; anything over 160, downright high. (The cutoffs for total cholesterol are 200 and 240.) HDL levels should be at least 40 for men, 50 for women. Have a healthcare professional help you put those numbers in an overall context that includes other cardiac risk factors, such as high blood pressure and smoking.
2. Keep Stress, and Hostile Feelings, at Bay
Evidence suggests that stress can throw one’s internal chemistry out of balance, which in turn can contribute to heart woes. But in research presented at an annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, men with the lowest hostility levels boasted better HDL levels than their more hot-headed peers. That makes stress control crucial to cardiac health.
3. Get Moving—for Life
Exercise is the exact opposite of stress: Staying active is linked to all that makes for sweetness and light, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular well-being. Getting physical helps your heart pump more efficiently and helps lower both total and LDL cholesterol while raising HDL. What’s more, exercise also helps to drop blood pressure, another cardiac risk factor.
4. Remember That Calories (Sigh) Do Count
One way to increase your lifespan is to drastically cut your calorie intake, in part because such restriction helps improve the ratio of HDL to LDL. Life extension has been shown in lab mice, who can only eat what they’re fed. Lucky them—they don’t have to ignore culinary enticements on every corner. But going easy on portions even a little is a good idea, and taking a high-quality multivitamin every day can help keep you covered nutritionally.
5. Go for Healthy Fat
For a long time, people thought that cutting every last bit of fat out of your diet was the way to heart happiness. Wrong. The idea is to stick with such unsaturated fats as olive oil, the stuff that made the Mediterranean diet famous. It also means enjoying the healthy fats, known as omega-3 essential fatty acids, found in cold-water fish.
6. Color Your Diet Healthy
Back when you were blithely ignoring your mom’s pleas to finish your vegetables, none of us fully realized the power of produce. Today, we know that the phytonutrients in plants not only give fruits and vegetables their brilliant colors but confer a wealth of health benefits, including a considerable cardiovascular assist, on plant-consuming humans as well. So please do eat your veggies.
7. Feast on Fiber
Your body may not be able to digest the fiber found in whole foods, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Fiber not only keeps your intestinal system operating on all cylinders, but the soluble kind helps drain your bloodstream of excess cholesterol. Eating a fiber-rich diet also helps to fill you up, which in turn helps head off the obesity that is itself a threat to cardiovascular health.
The information in this blog is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with a doctor or qualified healthcare professional. Consultation with a doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner is strongly advised, before starting any regimen of supplementation, a change in diet or any exercise routine. Individuals who engage in supplementation to promote health, address conditions or support any structure or function of the body assume all risks. Women who are pregnant, especially, should seek the advice of a medical doctor before taking any dietary supplement and before starting any change in diet or lifestyle. Descriptions of herbs, vitamins, nutrients or any ingredients are not recommendations to take our products or those of any other company. We are not doctors or primary-source science researchers. Instead, we defer to the findings of scientific experts who conduct studies, as well as those who compile and publish scientific literature on the potential health benefits of nutrients, herbs, spices, vitamins or minerals. We cannot guarantee that any individual will experience any of the health benefits associated with the nutrients described. Natural Organics will not be held liable for any injuries, damages, hindrances, or negative effects resulting from any reliance on the information presented, nor will Natural Organics be held accountable for any inaccuracy, miscalculation or error in the scientific literature upon which the information provided is based.
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