Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, which is essential for good health, but high cholesterol can increase risk for heart disease and diabetes.
There are two kinds of cholesterol:
LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) often known as the "bad" cholesterol, can build plaque in the walls of your arteries which will reduce blood flow and increase your chances of heart attack or stroke. The lower the LDL, the better.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) often known as "good" cholesterol. HDL takes the "bad" cholesterol out of your blood, keeping arteries open and your blood flowing more freely. Higher levels of HDL are better.
Making healthy lifestyle changes can help to lower your bad cholesterol level (LDL):
- Fill up on fiber. Add more whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas, oats, barley and legumes to your diet. Fiber is usually low in calories, which keeps you feeling satisfied longer and helps to curb idle snacking.
- Reduce unhealthy fats. Trans fat found in fried foods, butter and commercially baked goods, can increase bad cholesterol (LDL).
- Exercise More. Increasing physical activity is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, and can affect for your mental health as well. Adding 30 minutes, five times a week can lower cholesterol.
A blood test can measure the LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol. Sometimes, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol, so it is important to be checked on a annual basis.