Improving Your Cholesterol the Right Way

Improving Your Cholesterol the Right Way

You stop for a visit in the doctor’s office for your yearly physical and lipid panel only to have this followed with feedback that you have hyperlipidemia.  Hyperlipidemia, what is that?  From a definition standpoint, it means you have high levels of lipids in your body.  In other words, you have high cholesterol.  There is a reported 71 million adults in the United States who have high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is also termed “bad cholesterol” [1].  This translates to about 33.5 percent of the American adult population and less than half of these adults do not seek proper treatment.  Without adequate treatment of high cholesterol, you place you and your body at high risk for heart disease and an even greater risk for stroke.  While general guidelines suggest total values be under 200 mg/dL, there are more stringent guidelines to follow. Listed in this article are some ways on how you can manage, maintain, or even lower your total blood cholesterol levels.

The Good and Bad of Cholesterol

There are two primary particles measured when you get a cholesterol reading.  For the sake of this discussion, your blood test will reveal an HDL-C reading (good cholesterol) and an LDL-C reading (bad cholesterol).  While it is ok to have a value above 60 mg/dL for the HDL-C reading, you want to avoid having a high level of LDL-C (above 130 mg/dL).  Some ways the LDL-C reading gets elevated is through the consumption of saturated fats in the everyday diet.  Saturated fats are a heart’s biggest nightmare because of the shaping of the carbon bonds in the structure.  The saturated fatty acid is a straighter compound compared to an unsaturated fatty acid, which means more can be stacked in a smaller area than the unsaturated counterpart.  As a result, arteries can become clogged much quicker and atherosclerosis forms much easier.  Once atherosclerosis is formed in the arteries, heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease can follow.

How to Lower Your Cholesterol through Proper Diet

Diet is one of the biggest factors to your high cholesterol levels.  First, it is imperative for cholesterol levels to consume a diet low in saturated fats (preferably a low-fat diet).  Second, fiber consumption is a way to help reduce cholesterol levels.  Fiber is a starchy compound which simply travels through the colon and serves to “cleanse” the colon.  During the “cleansing”, fiber picks at fatty and atherosclerotic particles in the blood and helps eliminate them in waste.  As a result, fiber is highly recommended in the diet.  Studies have shown that a 20 gram per day fiber supplement provides significant and sustained reductions in bad cholesterol levels over a 51 week trial [2], demonstrating that the more fiber one consumes the better it is for cholesterol.  Look for psyllium packets or supplements to help aid in fiber ingestion.  In addition, beans, legumes, and whole wheat are great sources of fiber.

Daily Exercise

Exercise has many health benefits and cholesterol is one of the biggest beneficiaries of daily exercise.  Regular aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to lower and regulate total cholesterol levels by lowering LDL-C (bad) and increasing HDL-C (good) levels.  Studies have shown that 24 weeks of regular aerobic endurance training can induce beneficial changes in cholesterol levels independent of diet and initial body fat levels [3].  Endurance training of moderate intensity of at least 30 minutes every day is currently recommended by various exercise organizations, which makes walking, jogging, biking, and anything which elevates the heart rate beneficial for cholesterol.

Statin Use

While a healthy diet and plentiful exercise is one of the first recommended modalities in controlling cholesterol levels, sometimes genetics play a bigger factor.  When this happens, your doctor may prescribe a statin drug to help reduce LDL-C and increase HDL-C for a better overall profile.  Discuss this option further with your physician.

Putting it All Together

Following a healthy diet of at least 20 grams of fiber per day, limiting saturated fat intake through a low-fat diet, and receiving 30 minutes of aerobic exercise everyday can help regulate your cholesterol levels.  Start with a 30 minute walking program to help jump start your active lifestyle and immediately switch to a healthy diet inclusive with fiber to help reduce cholesterol.  Keeping a healthy lifestyle journal can help assist in the progression of your lifestyle change.






About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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