What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your body that helps your body create hormones and process foods. It is made naturally by your liver and can be found in some foods. High levels of cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is made up of two types:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, because high levels are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – often referred to as “good” cholesterol, because high levels help protect against heart disease.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol can be caused by several factors, including:
- Diet – eating a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol can lead to high levels of cholesterol.
- Weight – being overweight or obese can increase cholesterol.
- Inactivity – a lack of physical activity can contribute to high levels of cholesterol.
- Age – as people get older, their cholesterol levels tend to rise.
- Genetics – some people have a family history of high cholesterol.
How to Lower Cholesterol Levels
The key to lowering cholesterol levels is making healthy lifestyle choices that can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are some tips to help lower your cholesterol levels:
- Manage your diet – reduce your intake of saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, and eat more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly – aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
- Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, so aim to get to a healthy weight and stay there.
- Manage stress – stress can increase your risk of heart disease, so practice stress-reduction techniques such as yoga or meditation.
- Quit smoking – smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Talk to your doctor – if lifestyle changes don’t help, your doctor may recommend medications to help lower your cholesterol levels.
Knowing your cholesterol levels is an important part of maintaining your health. Talk with your doctor about what your cholesterol levels should be and how to maintain a healthy level. With the right lifestyle changes, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by keeping your cholesterol levels in the healthy range.