When they first find out that they have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, many people are unsure exactly what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in the liver and other cells which is found is certain foods like dairy products, eggs and meat. But, how does a cholesterol level get too high and what are the risks of high cholesterol and how to lower your cholesterol?
In actuality, the body needs cholesterol in order for it to function properly. Cholesterol is crucial for the body to be able to produce hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. But, the body only needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function properly so when too much cholesterol is present within the body, problems like heart disease can develop. The goal is to lower your LDL, also called “bad” cholesterol which is what causes the buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries, and raise your HDL, your “good” cholesterol. HDL helps the body to get rid of bad cholesterol in the blood. If your HDL levels are too low, your risk of heart disease increases as well.
There are two main ways to lower your cholesterol. One way is to make changes within in your diet. Try to eat a low-cholesterol diet. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat less than three hundred milligrams of cholesterol daily. If you already have heart disease, you should limit your daily intake to less than two hundred milligrams a day. You can significantly lower the amount of cholesterol that you are eating by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat and that contain substantial amounts of dietary cholesterol or at least by keeping your dietary intake of saturated fats low.
The other main way to lower your cholesterol is to take cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed by a doctor. Doctors will determine if these types of medications are needed by assessing the number of risk factors you have for heart disease. Smoking and inactivity through exercise can increase your risk of heart disease. Some people who have known heart disease, diabetes, or multiple risk factors for heart disease may have no other alternative but to take cholesterol-lowering medications to control their cholesterol levels.
If you would like to avoid taking cholesterol medications you should try a few simple changes to your lifestyle to help lower your cholesterol. A change in your diet is a must. You should also quit smoking. Smoking lowers your good cholesterol levels which can easily be reversed if you quit smoking. Exercise is another simple lifestyle change you can make to lower your cholesterol level naturally. Exercise increases the good cholesterol in some people. Even moderate-intensity activities that are done daily can help you to control your weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure which are all risk factors for heart disease.
High cholesterol and heart disease is hereditary so if you are concerned about your cholesterol level, you should see your doctor. A simple blood test will be able to tell you the level of bad and good cholesterol that you have. You doctor can also assess your lifestyle and give you advice on how you can stay within health cholesterol ranges.