What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is complicated but here is the short version to get you started. Cholesterol is a substance that that is always associated as “very bad”. But the fact is your body produces cholesterol to build new cells. The issue is when we have too much cholesterol.
Cholesterol comes from two sources:
- One is your liver which makes all the cholesterol you need.
- The rest of the cholesterol in your body is from the foods you eat that are from animals – the cholesterol from meats, poultry and dairy is called “dietary cholesterol”. These are the saturated and trans fats that you cause your liver to produce too much cholesterol.
An important thing to remember is that if it comes from an animal that has a liver (and they all do), its got cholesterol in it! If it comes from anything else, then it does. More on this later.
Why Cholesterol Matters
Cholesterol travels through your circulatory system and the higher it increases the more dangerous it becomes. Everyone should have their cholesterol tested – Don’t wait until its too late!
There are two types of cholesterol:
- LDL cholesterol: This is the “bad cholesterol”. Too much of this gets increasingly bad for you very quickly. It gets the most attention of the two types.
- HDL cholesterol: This can be thought of as the “good cholesterol”.
HDL cholesterol is considered the “scavenger” taking as much excess LDL as it can back to the liver (it cannot get it all). So, too low of HDL can be a problem too. HDL can take months to increase even in small amounts.
Cholesterol joins with other substances in your arteries and can start narrowing the passages causing problem. It can even totally clog them causing heart attacks and strokes!.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Once you have yourself tested and get your cholesterol numbers and rations, you can work with your doctor on a plan to control it. There are many things you can do, however, a lifestyle change is the best way. But you have to commit to it!
Typically an unhealthy lifestyle of eating too many unhealthy foods, combined with not exercising (more later in Fitness section), and excess weight is enough to get you into trouble! Its important to not that Heredity can make a difference as well!
High Cholesterol Prevention and Treatment
Start your lifestyle change with eating a heart-healthy diet. This is nearly the best way to start making changes to your numbers by reducing your intake of saturated and trans fats! While you could go to a plant-based diet, that would a be tough path for nearly anyone. Start off by doing a major reduction of red meat and dairy products instead of trying to go “cold-turkey” – that usually results in frustration followed by quitting. Here are some easy changes to start with:
- Reduce Red Meat intake – at a minimum, reduce what you would have eaten by at least half that amount
- Milk substitution – Instead of whole milk, try Almond milk, Soy Milk or other healthy milk substuitutes. I tolerated Almond Milk until I added 2 tsp of Maple Syrup to each half-gallon – now I really like it!
- Reduce Cheese intake – This may not seem easy but cut back and the rest of the food will taste better. Dairy has a LOT of fats.
- Eliminate Fried Foods – Or at least cut WAY back. When cooking you can continue to use oil but try to use only Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil (nearly tasteless and a higher smoke point than Olive Oil).
- Increase Fruit & Vegetable intake – Remember “If its colored or even dark-colored, then its very healthy”.
- Increase Grains & Nuts intake – gsgdfgdh soos giod goihs dgoishd uwp9e.
- Reduce Sugar Intake – Try to eliminate soda drinks which are a huge culprit. Don’t use sweetener substitutes either, most are carcingienic. Use Raw Sugar or natural Maple Syrup if you must.
- EXERCISE! – This has no substitution and exercise will produce the most profound changes than anything else. You cannot separate Diet and Exercise! Medication may still be required for a while but work with your doctor and registered dietitian to create a plan.