Cholesterol is a wax-like substance produced in the liver and transported through the blood via lipoproteins. It builds cell membrane structures, produces hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and aids metabolism. When in excess, however, cholesterol increases the risk of stroke or a heart attack.
Here are some tips to help lower bad cholesterol levels in the body:
- Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise and physical activity increase the production of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) in the body. Set aside 30 minutes for exercises (for 5 days per week) and 2o minutes for aerobics (for 3 days).
- Stop Smoking
Smoking reduces the level of good cholesterol in the body, and within an hour of quitting, notable changes are seen in heart rate and blood pressure of regular smokers. Within 90 days of quitting, lung function and blood circulation improves, and after staying away from cigarettes for a year, the probability of a heart attack is reduced by 50%
- Lose a Few Pounds
Excess weight increases the levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) in the body. Exercising will help you lose some weight, but it’s important to actively change your lifestyle and keep track of your calorie intake.
- Adopt a Healthier Diet
Avoid trans fats (found in fast foods, fries, snacks, doughnuts, and microwave popcorn). Eat more monosaturated fats (found in tree nuts, olives and olive oil, and avocados; as well as omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, salmon, herring, or bluefin).
Certain supplements help reduce bad cholesterol. Common examples are fish oil and psyllium (soluble fiber supplement).
There are no clear symptoms to warn patients that their cholesterol levels are getting too high. The only way to know is via a blood test. This further underlines the importance of annual physical exams.
Residents of the Greater Houston Area can visit a nearby PCP For Life clinic for their physical exams, or for primary care for high cholesterol levels. Call 281-968-4096 now to make an appointment.