Cholesterol, produced by the liver and body’s cells is a cheese-like substance from animal products such as meat, dairy products, and eggs. Cholesterol comes in two forms, low density lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein. The low density cholesterol, LDL, is not good for you. However, high density cholesterol, or HDL, is good for you. The normal total cholesterol level is 200. Normal LDL levels are under 100. Higher levels can compromise normal HDL cholesterol levels required for good health.
Cholesterol levels that are out of the norm can cause health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health complications. A cholesterol level that is too high does not present symptoms. Nutrition and heredity are factors in high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia. Some aspects of cholesterol can be managed by lifestyle and nutritional controls, while others are not directly controllable.Among those high cholesterol risk factors out your control are gender, age, and heredity. The older you become, the more at risk you are for high cholesterol. Men over 45 years of age, and women over 55 years of age are in a high risk category for high cholesterol. When heart disease runs in the immediate family, such as a parent or sibling who has heat disease, your risk also increases. For men this means a father or brother who developed heart disease by age 55, are at greater risk than others. For women, this means that a mother or sister who has developed heart disease by age 65, indicates you have a greater chance.
Factors that contribute to high cholesterol that are within your control include diet, weight and an active lifestyle. A diet rich in saturated fat and cholesterol increases the total and the LDL-cholesterol levels. A diet low in cholesterol can balance out high cholesterol levels. Avoid using saturated fats, such as butter, when preparing or when eating food. Use canola oil, or olive oil instead of butter, vegetable oil, margarine, lard, or other shortening. Eat fish instead of meat.
Health professionals recommend eating fish, such as salmon or tuna, which have cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids about two or three times per week. Fish oil capsule supplements can also reduce cholesterol. Though not the same type as fish, plants such as soybeans, canola, walnuts, flaxseeds, and their oils also have omega-3 acids. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also contain cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber.An active lifestyle can improve your cholesterol level. Exercise or other physical activity lowers LDL, and increases HDL cholesterol by as much as 10%. An added bonus is that you lose weight. Obesity causes an increase in the LDL and a decrease in the HDL levels of cholesterol. Along with obesity, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure are cardiovascular risk factors. Normal HDL cholesterol levels can be managed through a healthy diet, and lifestyle changes that increase exercise, and reduce smoking.