Cholesterol is a fat found in your blood. Your body needs it to build cell membranes, make certain hormones, and more.
Cholesterol is transported in the blood by LDL and HDL. HDL transports cholesterol to the liver where it can be excreted. That’s why it’s commonly called the “good” cholesterol. By comparison, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) contributes to the buildup of cholesterol deposits in the inner walls of the arteries. These deposits make your blood vessels narrow and less flexible so if a blood clot forms, you are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Eating healthy fats (like olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds) helps increase HDL in your blood. HDL helps to remove the deposits in the arteries and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE AND PREVENTION
- Eat more of the “good” fats (unsaturated fat) like olive oil
- Avoid “bad” fats (trans fat) like fried food, chips, etc.
- Exercise regularly to raise your “good” cholesterols—do activities that get your heart pumping faster
- Keep a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Drink alcohol in moderation
Women should start getting their cholesterol checked after age 45 and men should start after age 35. If you have certain risk factors for heart disease, like diabetes, your doctor might start checking your cholesterol earlier.
BUILD TINY HABITS
Savor good fats: Enjoy olive oil on cooked veggies or fish, avocado in salads, and nuts and seeds with oatmeal.
Avoid junk food: Stay away from fried foods, (fries, donuts, etc.), store-bought desserts (cookies, cakes, etc.), and packaged snacks (chips, microwave popcorn, crackers, etc.).
Discover the power of plants: Replace animal sources of protein with lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds.
Banish elevators: Two or three flights of stairs? Take them instead of the elevator.
Reduce your screen time: Trade some of your sitting-and-scrolling time for active time.
Add steps: Park farther away so you can walk more.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Find a buddy: Stay accountable with a friend who wants to make healthy lifestyle changes!
Reduce friction: Make healthy plans and set yourself up to succeed. For example, pack your gym bag and put it by your door the night before you plan to work out.
Get your family on board: If you’ve got a family, get everyone eating better and moving more together.
Plan ahead: Plan your (healthy) meals for the whole week, make a shopping list, and stick to it!
Stay away from temptation: Have a snack before heading to the grocery store and stay away from the aisles with junk food. When eating out, look at the menu before you decide where to go, and choose a place with healthy options.
Carebook Health & Wellness Team – Last reviewed 04-2019