High Density Helpers and Low Density Cloggers
Did you know there are 2 types of cholesterol? And while they both can affect each other, one is good for you and one is bad? Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver for cells, membranes and metabolism and is needed in order to create hormones, vitamin D and the bile acid that helps you digest fat. The good cholesterol is known as high density lipoprotein or HDL. Your HDL cholesterol acts as the street sweeper of your blood vessels. They clean the walls of your blood vessels, and support a healthy heart and good circulation.
Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol flowing through the bloodstream that tends to deposit on the walls of arteries. Collecting in the blood vessels and accumulating over time, LDL cholesterol can contribute to poor circulation and is thought to be a significant contributor for many heart related concerns for adults as they continue to mature. HDL helps lower LDL levels by gathering up the bad cholesterol but overall the body only needs a limited amount of cholesterol, beyond that is a cause for further health issues.
You can monitor your cholesterol levels by taking a cholesterol test or lipid panel. Looking at your genetics or family history can be an indicator as to your cholesterol, as well as looking at your diet, how active you are, and your habits (smoking, tobacco use, medications.) The average recommended cholesterol levels, range from 100-120 for HDL and around 60 or above for LDL. It is usually advised to keep your total cholesterol number around 200 or below. Ways to stay away from high cholesterol numbers include keeping a diet low in saturated fats, trans-fats, and sugars, as well as avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol content themselves - such as burgers and cheese fries - as these can all increase your LDL cholesterol.
Taking Action to Heart
While staying away from the bad, you can take on the good to help support healthier cholesterol levels. Fish, walnuts, almonds and other nuts that are rich in polyunsaturated fats are beneficial because of their omega-3 fatty acid content which has been proven to help support lower triglyceride levels and better HDL numbers. Fruits and vegetables that specifically contain plant sterols or stanols can help block your body’s absorption of cholesterol. But you can’t always get everything your body needs directly from your diet, supplementing your nutrition directly with fish oil, or flaxseed oil and borage oil as a vegetarian option, can help provide you with a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids. The B vitamin niacin can also provide support for healthy HDL levels and works best in junction with a low cholesterol-focused diet. Combining a healthy diet, proper supplementation, and at least 30 minutes a day of exercise can help support higher HDL levels and combat LDL cholesterol. The road to a healthy heart runs through your blood vessels. Help keep your heart’s highways clean by taking the necessary steps towards healthier levels cholesterol levels, no matter your age. Today is the perfect day to begin a healthier lifestyle!