September is just around the corner and parents and children are gearing up for another school year. With busy schedules on the rise, we tend to eat on the go and may not pay close attention to our eating habits, which can lead to high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol circulates in the blood, and is a waxy substance that your body needs to function. As blood cholesterol levels rise, so does your health risk. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol tested so you can know your levels.
Cholesterol comes from two sources. Your body, specifically your liver, makes all the cholesterol you need while the rest comes from your diet. Foods such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products are high in saturated and trans fat, causing the liver to make more cholesterol than normal. These two sources are known as HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol).
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) contributes to fatty buildups in arteries, raising your risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. High -density lipoprotein (HDL), is known to act as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. There it’s broken down and passed from the body.
The good news is high cholesterol is controllable and there are a number of ways in which you can lower your risk of coronary heart disease. It is important to speak to your doctor about getting tested and understanding cholesterol in your body. Making small changes in your life can be a great benefit to your health. Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to ensure your way to a healthier heart.
Becoming more physically active A sedentary lifestyle lowers HDL cholesterol. Less HDL cholesterol means there’s less good cholesterol to remove LDL (bad) cholesterol from arteries.
Quitting smoking Smokers can lower their cholesterol levels and help protect their arteries by quitting. Nonsmokers should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Losing weight Being overweight or obese tends to raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol.
Eating a Heart Healthy Diet Knowing which fats (saturated, unsaturated, and trans) raise LDL cholesterol and what foods to avoid can greatly lower your cholesterol levels.
To learn more about how to check, change and control your cholesterol levels and test your cholesterol IQ, visit www.heart.org.