Cholesterol is a waxy fatlike substance which is naturally made in the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly. Cholesterol becomes a problem when the body produces too much cholesterol or you consume too much in the food you eat. When the levels of cholesterol in your blood stream are too high, it begins to stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. The plaque can eventually block the blood flow in your arteries increasing your risk of developing heart disease. If the artery that supplies blood to your heart becomes blocked, a heart attack can occur. If the artery that supplies your brain gets blocked, you can suffer from a stroke.
There are two kinds of cholesterol –“good” cholesterol and“bad” cholesterol. “Good” cholesterol is called HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) and the “bad” cholesterol is called LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein). LDL cholesterol is the cholesterol that deposits on and blocks the walls of the arteries whereas HDL clears cholesterol away from the artery walls. If the LDL level is high when you have a blood test, you may have a higher risk of having heart disease.
You can control your blood cholesterol with healthier lifestyle choices. You may wish to speak with a dietician to help you get started. Eat foods containing less fat and cholesterol. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. If you are overweight, try losing some weight by eating fewer saturated and trans fats. Quit smoking; it may increase your HDL “good” cholesterol. If your doctor has prescribed medication to help reduce your cholesterol, take it as prescribed. Lead an active lifestyle by participating in at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
You can reduce the risk of heart disease by making changes in your lifestyle and lowering your LDL.
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