What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat that is essential for the body’s functioning. The liver produces all the cholesterol a person needs, but because of high cholesterol foods and fat, it has become easier for people to have high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is the most common cause of heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, there are 17 billion people around the world that die of heart disease each year. It is the #1 cause of death in the US, as well as in many other regions, including Europe.
Types of Cholesterol
Total Cholesterol (CHOL) is the total blood cholesterol measurement of LDL, HDL, and other lipid components.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” cholesterol, as it helps carry the LDL from tissues to the liver for disposal.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” cholesterol, as too much LDL in the blood will cause plaque to build up in your arteries, which reduces blood flow.
Triglycerides (TRIG) are a type of fat in the blood that is used for energy. High levels of TRIG usually mean a person can eat more calories than what they can burn.
The Risks of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in the arteries leading to complications, such as chest pains, heart attacks, and strokes. The symptoms of cholesterol may not be obvious so it is sometimes referred to as a silent killer. High cholesterol risks also do not usually take effect immediately, instead the damage grows each year. A high level of cholesterol in your 20s and 30s can take its toll in your 50s and 60s so it is important to begin controlling your cholesterol at a young age.
Ways to Control Your Cholesterol
- Avoid foods rich in Cholesterol, such as meat and animal products
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are cholesterol free foods
- Eat more fish. Many types of fish, especially salmon, contain heart healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids called Omega-3, which can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
- Increase your soluble fiber consumption. Soluble fiber rich foods, such as oats and kidney beans, can help lower cholesterol.
- Avoid trans fats, which increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. This fat is typically found in packaged foods and fried foods.
- Keep active and maintain a healthy weight. Exercising increases HDL and decreases LDL. Exercise also helps prevent you from becoming overweight, which increases your risk of heart disease.
- Do not smoke, as smoking cigarettes can lower your HDL cholesterol levels.
- Prevent other heart disease risks, including Diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Monitor your cholesterol levels. Keeping track of your cholesterol levels and recording your current numbers is an important part of controlling your cholesterol. Testing at home with the Mission® or Mission® Ultra Cholesterol Monitoring Systems is a great way to track your cholesterol levels.
What do your numbers mean?
* Please visit your doctor for detailed guidance
Tips for Managing Your Cholesterol
- Choose more plant based foods, which are cholesterol free
- Eat more fish with omega 3 fatty acids, which can prevent heart disease
- Eat more soluble fiber to help lower your cholesterol levels
- Bake, steam, or grill instead of frying food
- Do not smoke. If you do, visit your doctor to develop a plan to help you quit
- Exercise, control your weight, reduce your stress, and sleep well
- Visit your doctor regularly for checkups and monitor your cholesterol levels.