Many people have been told to watch their cholesterol level and dietary intake because their bloodwork showed a high cholesterol reading. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is carried in your blood. You can take steps to manage your cholesterol and protect your health. Plaque is a buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls that cause arteries to narrow, blocking blood flow. Plaque buildup can damage arteries throughout the body but especially in the heart. This can lead to serious heart problems, including heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
It is good to know what cholesterol is, how blood flows through the heart, know your own health numbers, and what you can do about it. Be informed.
What is cholesterol? Learn more. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol
How blood flows through the heart. Read more. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart/blood-flow
Know your numbers. Learn more. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/prevention–treatment-of-diabetes/know-your-health-numbers
What can be done in terms of diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors?
Some people are prone to high cholesterol due to their family history. This is out of a person’s control and can’t be changed. Other factors affecting cholesterol can be changed such as eating heart-healthy foods, being more active, not smoking, and being informed. Knowledge is power.
What you eat and the portion sizes you choose can greatly affect your cholesterol.
- Choose a heart-healthy diet and reduce your risk for heart disease: The Power of Food- https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FS426
- Limit portion sizes https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2023/01/13/portion-control-matters-portion-size-matters/
- Limit saturated fats https://www.myplate.gov/tip-sheet/rethink-fats
- Choose unsaturated fats https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia/the-skinny-on-fats
- Eat nutrient-dense foods https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/03/01/follow-the-rainbow-for-good-health-during-nutrition-month/
Exercise is another big factor we can control. Be physically active for 150 minutes a week (2-½ hours). Lose excess weight if you are overweight. Engage in stress management and mindfulness if you are prone to stress and anxiety. Here are five reasons to start exercising today- https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/06/22/five-reasons-to-start-exercising-today/
Lastly, choose not to smoke, vape or use tobacco products. Quitting can be difficult but so many people have successfully kicked the habit and so can you! Seek advice from your healthcare provider. There are support groups you may want to join, and it is always good to read about available information and resources. https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking
By lowering your cholesterol level, you may:
- Reduce your risk for heart disease
- Reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke
- Increase the chance of staying healthy
- Increase your chances of living longer, thus increasing your longevity
Have you been told you need to watch your cholesterol levels? The good news is that you can take steps to manage your cholesterol and protect your health. Always follow the advice of your healthcare provider. Seek out help and resources when needed. Come up with a plan. You’ve heard me mention in several of my blogs: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Just do it!
Wishing you well today and every day.
Resources to learn more.
Take Care of Your Heart – https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2023/02/01/take-care-of-your-heart/
Thoughts of the Heart – https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/02/01/thoughts-of-the-heart/
Health Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables – https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/07/01/get-health-benefits-this-summer-focus-on-fruits-and-vegetables/
Soidum Intake and Blood Pressure – https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2019/11/13/sodium-intake-and-blood-pressure/
American Heart Association – https://www.heart.org/
Physical Activity and Diabetes – https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/04/06/physical-activity-and-diabetes/
MyPlate & Eating Healthy – https://www.myplate.gov/
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm
Stay Active for Better Health – https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2023/06/01/stay-active-for-better-health/.
Contact your local Florida Extension office to see if they offer the Let’s Walk Florida (LWF) exercise program.
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