Q: How is your cholesterol?
If you don’t know, you should find out.
Cholesterol is one of those things that is both good for us and bad for us. At normal levels, cholesterol is a substance essential for your body’s normal functioning. HOWEVER, if the cholesterol levels get to high, it becomes a “silent” danger that puts you at great risk for a heart attack.
So, what is cholesterol? Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body. It is oil-based and it does not mix with the blood, which is water-based. Therefore, it is carried around the body in the blood by lipoproteins.
LDL: Low-Density Lipoprotein (Bad Cholesterol/Builds up in arteries)
HDL: High-Density Lipoprotein (Good Cholesterol/carries cholesterol to liver for removal from body)
Here’s the good news! The greatest risk factors for high cholesterol are modifiable lifestyle choices–diet and exercise. Even if you have not been diagnosed with high cholesterol, there are things you can do to ensure you increase/maintain your good cholesterol and decrease the bad cholesterol.
Here are 5 ways to improve your good (HDL) cholesterol:
Get Active: Daily exercise & activity is a healthy habit that is bigger than helping you to lose weight. One of the most important muscles in your body is your heart. It is important to maintain regular exercise so you can improve your overall cardiovascular health. Daily activity also helps to increase your good cholesterol levels.
Taste the Rainbow: Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It is truly the best strategy for getting a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. However, fruits and vegetables rich in the colors red and purple have additional benefits to help raise your good cholesterol and reduce your bad cholesterol. In addition, the increase in fiber will also help control your overall cholesterol levels.
Eat Healthy Fats: Just like you need to eat healthy fats to lose weight, you need to eat healthy fats to help raise your good cholesterol. Try incorporating healthy, fatty fish like salmon twice a week. You can also incorporate healthy oils like olive oil and other heart healthy sources of fat to raise good cholesterol.
Eat LESS sugar: You have to cut the sugar. Truth is, sugar is in just about everything. It is real easy to consume well over 90g of sugar per day. Too often, we consume too much sugar (including hidden sugars) from snacking & drinking various beverages. Reducing your daily sugar consumption will help to lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol.
Eat More Fiber: See tip #2. By eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, you are incorporating good sources of heart-healthy antioxidants and cholesterol lowering dietary fiber. Try eating beans and/or oats. Fiber truly does a body good.