American Heart Month is a time to promote the healthy benefits of good nutrition and physical activity. This February, the physicians at Weight Success Centers, LLC also emphasize that controlling your cholesterol is one of the most important things you can do to decrease your risks for heart disease.
Understanding Cholesterol and Heart Health
Cholesterol is an essential component of our body cells, but high cholesterol can be a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, and other conditions. A lipid-panel blood test (with fasting) is one of the first steps to understanding your cholesterol levels. The lab results would include your numbers for total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides.
Your primary care doctor or a physician at Weight Success Centers can help you compare your numbers and ratios to the target range for your age, gender, diet, genetics, risks, and health conditions. For example, an adult man or woman with diabetes or heart disease risk factors would need to maintain lower LDL levels or “bad cholesterol” levels than a teen with no underlying conditions.
3 Simple Steps for Controlling Cholesterol
Often, the focus for improving cholesterol is to lower your LDL, because that type of cholesterol can build up in your arteries and increase risks for cardiovascular disease. One might think that just reducing cholesterol consumption would be the solution; however, monitoring your fat intake is most critical.
1) Reduce “Bad” Fats: The unhealthiest fats to avoid are trans fats, such as those found in shortening and fried foods. Experts also recommend limiting saturated fats. Saturated fats are found in whole milk, cheeses, butter, chocolate, fatty meats like beef, egg yolks, other animal sources, as well as coconut and palm oils. Saturated fats are often identified as solid at room temperature, such as a block of cheese. A healthier option for fat intake is unsaturated fats, like those found in walnuts, almonds, or olive oil, which do not negatively affect cholesterol levels like saturated and trans fats.
2) Eat Healthier Foods: Build your diet around nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Search for recipes to prepare these fat-free foods in exciting ways, such as grilling or roasting with flavorful herbs and spices, instead of butter and oils. Also, opt for lean protein sources, such as fish and plant proteins including seeds and beans. Ideally, opt for healthy polyunsaturated fats to energize your body and better control cholesterol.
3) Movement and Exercise: Physical activity is a major key to heart health. If you have been inactive, restart your exercise routine by adding a 20-minute walk to your day. If you are at a higher fitness level, consider adding a new cardio workout to the mix. Exercise can help raise your HDL or “good cholesterol” levels and help your body get rid of the bad cholesterol in your blood.
For diet plans and medical solutions, contact our experts and weight-loss doctors at Weight Success Centers. A medically supervised weight-loss program can make a big difference in a person’s ability to control their cholesterol and improve their heart health.