Do you know what your LDL cholesterol number is?
The last ten years of scientific research has given us a greater insight as to the significance of cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, and how they may correlate to increased instances of heart disease.
By having your levels of cholesterol checked on a regular basis you will be better able to monitor your overall health, as well as the health of your heart.
Experts recommend being checked every five years after the age of 20 provided you have no other types of health problems.
Unfortunately, cholesterol levels aren’t the simplest to decipher. There are actually two different numbers you should be concerned with, one being high, while the other should be lower.
So how can you make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep those numbers where they should be?
The first step is learning how LDL cholesterol relates to having a healthy heart.
Learning About LDL, the “Bad” Cholesterol
You may have heard about the “bad” type of cholesterol, which is technically called low density lipoprotein, and how this number should be as low as possible in order to be at your healthiest.
The proteins in this type of cholesterol can become thick and stick to the walls of the arteries, which is referred to as plaque, and makes it considerably harder for blood to pass through.
This extra strain on the heart makes it more likely for a person to have a heart attack, or to develop cardiovascular disease.
For this reason, you will want to ensure that your LDL cholesterol level stays under 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood, and any number that’s over 130 mg/dl should be a reason for concern.
So what is the best way to keep LDL cholesterol levels within a healthy range?
The majority of us can do so by making healthier choices through the foods we eat and how much exercise we get.
Diets that are rich in vegetables, fruits, and feature an abundance of whole grains are beneficial for keeping this type of cholesterol at an acceptable level.
Regular exercise helps keep blood flowing and the heart strong and working efficiently. Maintaining a normal weight and avoiding smoking will also help to keep LDL cholesterol at a minimum, but in some instances, medication may be necessary to reduce those levels if diet and exercise alone haven’t been successful.
Of course, with any type of medication, there are side effects to consider. Lower levels of LDL cholesterol may be worth the added risks from taking the drug instead of the added stress on the heart by not treating the condition at all.
Learning About HDL, the “Good” Cholesterol
Due to all of the clinical studies and research on cholesterol, we know that in order to have a healthy heart, these levels must be kept to a minimum.
Over the last decade, these studies have shown a distinct link between high cholesterol and increased instances of heart related diseases.
It’s important to know that not every type of cholesterol should be low. Besides the LDL, or bad cholesterol, which adheres to the lining of artery walls causing plaque to form and restricting the flow of blood, there is another type referred to as good cholesterol, or technically, high density lipoprotein cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol can help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol in a process facilitated by the liver. The higher the levels of HDL, the better, as any number over 60 mg/dl is considered healthy.
Under 40 is said to be unhealthy and may require medical intervention through prescription drugs, or through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
Having Healthy Cholesterol Numbers
Many people are concerned with their level of HDL cholesterol, you may be wondering if it’s possible to raise that number, and how to go about it.
This may be in part because we have less control over this type of cholesterol, as opposed to LDL, as factors such as hormones may increase HDL levels.
However, some scientific evidence suggests that HDL cholesterol is predetermined to a degree, but recent studies have shown that there may still be certain things one can do to increase this number.
Following a diet that’s low in carbohydrates and unrefined sugars may help to increase good cholesterol by as much as ten percent.
Be sure you’re eating a healthy balance of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Saturated fats and sodium both also tend to wreak havoc on cholesterol levels. Experts say that adding something as simple to your diet as soy protein may further help to increase HDL cholesterol by as much as three percent or more.
Some studies have also suggested that vitamin supplements may also help to increase HDL cholesterol, while LDL levels can be reduced through exercise, diet, or prescription medication.
Cholesterol happens to be one of the most important factors in whether or not you will develop some type of heart disease.
If levels are too high, plaque will build up within the arteries, making it increasingly difficult for blood to flow through.
This extra resistance causes the heart to work considerably harder, putting unnecessary strain on this vital organ. This could result in conditions such as cardiovascular disease, or heart attack and stroke.
By employing the above tips, you can reduce your risks of these diseases and work to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level.