It’s a fat-like substance found in the cells in your body. Cholesterol helps to make hormones and Vitamin D., but when your cholesterol numbers get too high, it can also play a big role in your health. “When their cholesterol starts to elevate, or they’re told its high for the first time, there really is a protocol for six months of dietary and lifestyle change, before starting medication,” said Carrie Bloemers, Healthy Life Center Manager with Lee Health.
Your cholesterol numbers are influenced by what you eat and how often you exercise. Both your LDL and your HDL should be monitored regularly. “Your LDL is the lousy cholesterol and the number we want to bring down because the higher levels are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease and risk of stroke, heart attack, etc.,” said Bloemers.
Your HDL is your good cholesterol. Increasing your omega threes, adding things like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and having regular physical activity can help to boost your HDL. “Exercise does help with cholesterol management. The HDL is found to increase by adding strength and resistance training,” she explained.
To keep your LDL numbers low, health experts recommend making small changes to your diet. “We really recommend starting with some basic dietary changes so that it may be addressing the amount of fiber in your diet, the amount in different types of fats in your diet, or the quantity of sugar you’re consuming,” Bloemers said.
Saturated fats like cheese, processed meats, and butter can cause your bad cholesterol to be high. “Some people may have a familial trait for high cholesterol, and in that case, you would definitely work with your primary care physician or your cardiologist,” she said.
Making changes to your diet and increasing your physical activity can help to keep your healthy cholesterol high and your unhealthy cholesterol low.