Part of enjoying life means enjoying food! But learning to balance your cholesterol takes time and attention.
The American Heart Association (AHA) tells us that cholesterol (also called lipid) is used by our bodies to keep us healthy. Our bodies make some of it naturally, while some comes from the food we eat.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or "good cholesterol," and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or "bad cholesterol." When your LDL gets high, it can cause plaque, or sticky deposits, to build up on the inner walls of your arteries. That buildup makes the blood vessels smaller and keeps blood from flowing like it should. This makes the chances of having a heart attack or stroke higher. HDL keeps the bad cholesterol from sticking to the walls of arteries. The higher your HDL, the better.1
High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease. But the good news is you can get your cholesterol under control. For some people, high cholesterol may be due to weight gain, eating foods high in saturated fat (a bad fat found in most animals, their byproducts and some plants), trans fats (trans fatty acids), or cholesterol, smoking or lack of exercise. Starting to exercise or eating a heart-healthy diet may be enough to lower their cholesterol. For some, high levels of LDL run in the family. Changing how you eat or exercise may not be enough. 2
Triglycerides, the most common fat found in the body, can also lead to heart disease. Low HDL, high LDL, and high triglycerides may speed up the fatty buildup in your arteries. And, just like cholesterol, triglycerides are affected by age, gender, family, health and lifestyle.3
For more information, visit www.heart.org
Controlling your cholesterol may take some work. But exercising regularly and watching what you eat can help. Here are some simple tips for helping you lower your cholesterol:
And above all, take charge! Everyone's body is different, so getting your numbers down may take you more work than it does your friend. And even if your cholesterol levels are good, healthy habits will help keep them that way.
Here's how you and your doctor can help take charge of your cholesterol:
For more information about cholesterol and heart healthy living, visit the American Heart Association Web site at www.heart.org
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