Cholesterol is a lipid that the liver produces naturally. Your body needs cholesterol to form specific hormones and vitamin D in the body.
It also helps keep the walls of your cells flexible. Cholesterol does not dissolve in water, so it travels in the body through proteins called lipoproteins.
Two types of cholesterol
—1. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol
—2. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol.
Having too much bad cholesterol may result in excess cholesterol deposits in your arteries which may put you at risk of heart attack and stroke. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the meaning and importance of your cholesterol numbers.
Ways to lower bad (or increase good) cholesterol
—1. Increase your fiber intake. (25 to 30 grams a day from food)
—2. Eat more healthy fats. (i.e. avocados, olive oil and nuts)
—3. Add more omega-3s to your diet. (i.e. salmon, but deep frying fish will defeat the purpose)
—4. Maintain a healthy weight.
—5. Avoid stress.
—6. Exercise regularly. (30 min./day, 5 days/week)
—7. Don’t smoke.
—8. Limit alcohol. (2 drinks/day for men, 1 drink/day for women)
—9. Avoid trans fats. (i.e. pastries, cookies, fast food)
—10. Take supplements like fish oil.
—11. Consider prescription medication. Have a discussion with your doctor.
High cholesterol levels can cause serious health problems, including heart disease. The good thing is, committing to a healthier lifestyle and cooperating with your doctor can help you treat or manage this condition, and prevent greater health risks in the future.
Meanwhile, if you don’t know your cholesterol levels, please schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Dr. Bridget Gibson is a family medicine physician at Brookwood Baptist Health.