Cholesterol Mistakes Can Ruin Your Health, Avoid These Bad Habits

Mar 05 2018

Cholesterol Mistakes Can Ruin Your Health, Avoid These Bad Habits

Cholesterol levels tell your doctor about the fats in your blood. Unhealthy levels are linked to hardening of the arteries, which can cause heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Your numbers include “bad” (LDL) and “good” (HDL) cholesterol, plus triglycerides, a common fat in your body. If you understand where your numbers are and what may affect them, you can do several things to help manage them and stay healthy.

Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high and a warning signal. LDL levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.





Cholesterol: Get Tested

Unhealthy cholesterol numbers don’t typically cause any symptoms, so it’s important to get them checked. If you find out there’s a problem, diet, lifestyle changes, and medication can help. After age 20, take a simple blood test annually to make sure they’re in the healthy range.


Cholesterol: Stay Exercise Active

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control your cholesterol. You don’t have to run a marathon, 40 minutes of walking, swimming, cycling, 3 to 4 times is great. If you’re short on time, you can break it into 10-minute increments throughout the day.  Resistance training, pushups, pullups, weights, will also help.


Cholesterol: Don’t Be A Couch Potato

Sitting too long is linked to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It lowers “good” cholesterol, which helps get rid of the bad stuff, and raises triglyceride levels. This is true even if you exercise regularly. If you work at a desk, try to get up and move around every 30 minutes, or think about using a standing desk.


Cholesterol: Stop Smoking

It lowers your “good” cholesterol levels, which means you keep more of the bad stuff. And it’s linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Quitting can make your cholesterol levels better and help protect your arteries from hardening. If you don’t smoke, also do your best to stay away from secondhand smoke.


Cholesterol: Being Overweight Is Dangerous

Carrying too many pounds, especially around your belly, can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good kind (HDL). But lose just 10% of your weight, and you could really help your numbers. Talk to your doctor about the best diet and exercise program to help you lose weight.


Cholesterol: Lots Of Saturated Fat Is Bad

This comes from beef, pork, lamb, and full-fat dairy like butter, cream, milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as tropical oils like palm and coconut. All those things can raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. It can help to trim visible fat from meats and go with skim milk and low-fat yogurt. If your LDL is high, you shouldn’t get more than 6% of your calories from saturated fat.


Cholesterol: Lot of Trans Fat Is A No-No

Sometimes called “partially hydrogenated” fats or oils, you find them in fried foods, pastries, pizza dough, doughnuts, muffins, cookies, crackers, and many prepackaged foods. They raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower the good stuff. Check food labels to limit trans fats. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and nuts.


Cholesterol: What Are The Good Fats

Replace saturated and trans fats with healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. You’ll find those fats in trout, salmon, herring, avocados, olives, and walnuts.  Also use liquid vegetable oils like safflower, canola, sunflower, and olive oil. But make sure no more than 30% of your daily calories come from any kind of fat.


Cholesterol: Eat Fiber

There are 2 types: soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which doesn’t. Both are good for your heart health, but soluble fiber in particular helps lower your LDL levels. Add it to your diet with a bowl of oatmeal in the morning or with oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils, or vegetables.


Cholesterol: Drink Too Much Liquor

Overdoing it with alcohol can cause unhealthy cholesterol numbers. In particular, it can raise the level of fats in your blood. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women one. If you keep to that, you also might boost your HDL or “good” cholesterol numbers.


Cholesterol: Some Medications Don’t Mix Well

Follow your doctor’s directions about any prescriptions. If you do forget to take your medicine, don’t try to “make up” doses by taking more the next time. It can make you dizzy or sick. Make sure to tell your doctor about any drugs you already take.  Some drugs can clash with cholesterol meds if they’re taken at the same time.

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Barry G

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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