How to Lower High Cholesterol Level
I received a call from my Primary Physician regarding the result of my cholesterol, which is pretty much high. I thought to myself, is this part of increasing age…as I add up years…cholesterol adds up too? Tons of questions were playing in my mind.
What is this cholesterol thing? Is it something that I should worry about or just shrug my shoulder? Will it be forever high? Can I still lower my high cholesterol level down, thinking that whatever goes up must come down? Where did I get it from?
All I know is cholesterol is something fatty that I ate. Will I really get rid of fats in my diet? Suddenly, I have that urge to research and uncover this greasy word… cholesterol. Curiosity pushed me to create this website for those who have the same situation like mine, be informed and do what still can be done before it’s too late.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute considered September as the National Cholesterol Education Month. This is the best time to have our blood cholesterol checked, our diet and our lifestyle.
Having a high cholesterol level puts us in greater risk of having a heart disease. What if we found out that our cholesterol is high? Don’t worry because it’s not the end of everything. Our goal should be to lower our cholesterol levels to lessen our risk of developing heart disease and reduce our chance of having a heart attack.
What is cholesterol?
CHOLESTEROL is a waxy substance with positive and negative effects on the body. Our body needs cholesterol in producing hormones and in maintaining and building our nerve cells. What happens if our body has too much cholesterol? Is it good or bad?
Increased level of cholesterol in the blood can affect the walls of the blood vessel, fat deposits accumulate in a form of plaque inside the blood vessel walls, thus, causes the narrowing of the blood vessel, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
If blood vessels are narrowed, flow of blood also reduces, and eventually clogging it which could lead to a more serious condition such as cerebro vascular accident which we commonly known as stroke and heart attack.
To further understand, I found out that there are 2 different kinds of cholesterol:
- HDL (High Density Lipoprotein)- this is considered as the “good cholesterol” which help protect against the risk for heart disease. It helps clean fats and cholesterol from our blood vessels. This better be high.
- LDL (Low density Lipoprotein)- this is what we known as the “bad cholesterol”. Increased level in our blood could place us at risk for having heart problems. It causes the narrowing and eventually clogging our arteries. This better be low!
How to check the level of cholesterol?
Healthcare Providers usually recommend having our blood tested for LIPOPROTEIN PROFILE OR LIPID PROFILE. This blood test is used to measure the cholesterol level in the blood and assess the risk of developing heart disease. According to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), it is recommended that ages 20 and up should have their blood cholesterol level checked at least every 5 years.
But if you already have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend to have it checked more often. Before, it was recommended that cholesterol screening for kids should only be done if with family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Studies showed that 10-13% of children and teens have high cholesterol level at a score of over 200.Just recently, NHLBI issued new guidelines for cholesterol screening for children and endorsed by American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the new guideline, it is recommended that cholesterol screening for all children should be done
- Before puberty, between 9-11 years old, because during this time, they will naturally experience increase in their cholesterol level.
- Next test must be done between ages 17-21.
- Another recommendation is for parents to encourage a diet low in saturated fat from age 1 to prevent heart disease factors.
To get an accurate result of cholesterol in blood, we should do the following:
- Abstain from food for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
- Abstain from alcohol for 24 hours before the test.
- Meals before the day of test should be free from high cholesterol food.
Recommendations to LOWER HIGH CHOLESTEROL LEVEL
Be knowledgeable of the kinds and the amounts of fat in your food intake. Reducing fat in your diet could be your first step to a healthier you. These are some of the suggestions:
- Be in a habit of reading food labels.
- Prefer healthier fats such as canola or olive oil instead of margarine and butter.
- Consider products that are non fat or low fat in buying cream cheese, cheese, yogurt, milk products, and salad dressings.
- Buy lean meats such as chicken breast without the skin, beef sirloin, beef flank, and pork tenderloin.
- Prefer to bake, grill, broil, microwave and steam foods instead of the typical frying.
- Steam vegetables in the microwave instead of cooking it with butter.
- Limit eating in fast food restaurants, it can be very high in saturated and trans fat. Request for the nutritional information so you have an idea of its caloric content.
- Consider a meal without meat once or twice a week, look for alternative for meats such as beans.
- Eat fish at least twice a week. Avoid frying!
- Choose fresh fruits over sweets and fried snacks.
- Prefer baking desserts at home so we could use healthy oils, egg whites and fruits.
2. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Be sure to check with your Healthcare Provider on the exercise program that is right for you before you start one. A 30-minute walking a day could make a difference.
3. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
There were studies made that overweight and obesity is directly related to having high cholesterol level. Being overweight and obese has an increase chance of having high LDL and low HDL and more likely to develop diseases like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and more serious health problems such as cancers. Losing extra weight reduces the risk and improves cholesterol levels. Be sure to ask your doctor about BMI (Body Mass Index) which relates to your height and weight before considering weight reduction.
- Normal- BMI of 18.5-25.9
- Overweight- BMI of 25-29.9
- Obese- BMI of 30 and above
Your Doctor is the best one who could tell you if you need to take medication to lower cholesterol. Avoid self-medication! There are side effects attached to it. Usually it is prescribed to people who being physically active and conscious with their diet and still have a high cholesterol level.
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