Cholesterol is a liver byproduct that serves an important role in physical function. For example, cholesterol is involved in the production of several hormones, and it lends flexibility to the walls of our cells. As you may know, there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Working with your healthcare provider, your important job is to manage the two.
When you receive lab results from bloodwork, you may see a total cholesterol level, a level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and a level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein). Lipoproteins are molecules that transport cholesterol in the blood. While the general guidelines for healthy cholesterol levels can vary by age group, the general ideal is that LDL (“bad cholesterol”) will be lower than HDL (“good cholesterol”).
The reason for these labels is such: LDL tends to adhere to the walls of blood vessels. High LDL, then, has bee linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. HDL, on the other hand, prevents cholesterol accumulation in blood vessels by ushering this chemical away from vessel walls.
A Note About Dietary Cholesterol
The body is an amazing machine that knows what it is supposed to do (when it is healthy). Though there are claims made by food companies that their products are “low cholesterol,” this is irrelevant to the levels of cholesterol in your body. This is because the body only makes as much cholesterol as it needs. In one study, people who consumed two eggs a day did not experience elevated blood cholesterol levels compared to participants who did not consume eggs.
How to Manage Cholesterol in a Few Easy Steps
- Eat fat. Not any old fat, but monounsaturated fats. These can be found in avocados, canola and olive oils, olives, and tree nuts like cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almonds. In one study, individuals who consumed high amounts of monounsaturated fats experienced a 12% increase in beneficial HDL.
- Consume soluble fiber. The gut is its tiny ecosystem in which probiotics, or naturally good bacteria, live. Soluble fiber is the nourishment that probiotics need to function well. When good gut flora functions well, LDL levels decrease.
- Engage in exercise. Studies have shown that exercise like resistance training and aerobic activity have a doubly-beneficial effect. When the heart rate rises during a long or intense run or other activity, HDL increases and LDL decreases.
At Premier Cardiology Consultants, we value knowledge as it supports long-term health and wellness. For cardiac screenings and treatment, schedule a visit to our Lake Success, Richmond Hill, or Forest Hills office.