Getting Cholesterol Levels Under Control

People striving to live a healthy life should be aware of cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance found in every cell in the body. The liver makes all the cholesterol required by the body, but people can also get cholesterol from the diet. Eggs, meat, and dairy products are common food sources. Although some cholesterol is necessary to protect nerves, produce certain hormones, and build cells, too much can put a person at risk of health problems.



There are 2 different types of cholesterol, known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), sometimes called bad cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. If too much LDL builds up in the walls of the blood vessels, the narrowing can restrict blood flow to the heart and other organs. As a result, people with high LDL are at risk for heart attack and stroke. Certain lifestyle choices can help lower LDL levels and keep cholesterol levels under control.

1. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity can lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Adults should aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and 2 days of muscle strengthening every week. Swimming, running, tennis, cycling, and kickboxing all count. Find an enjoyable activity and set a consistent schedule for the best results.

2. Maintain an appropriate weight

Most people know that extra weight can cause health problems. Aiming for an appropriate body mass index (BMI) is a great way to stay healthy. Research shows that people who lose weight can effectively lower bad LDL cholesterol. Focus on a healthy diet and sufficient exercise to hit a goal weight and keep cholesterol under control.

3. Select good fat, avoid bad fat

Many individuals assume all fat is the same, but that’s not true. Saturated fats and trans fats are 2 forms of fat worth limiting or avoiding. Saturated fats are primarily found in red meat and full-fat dairy. Consider adding a meat-free meal 1-2 days each week and opt for low-fat versions of any dairy products consumed. Trans fats can be found in margarine, store-bought cookies and cakes, crackers, frozen pizza, and fried foods.

4. Add some fiber

Soluble fiber is a great way to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. This form of fiber is found in such foods as Brussels sprouts, oatmeal, kidney and black beans, apples, pears, broccoli, avocados, and sweet potatoes. Fiber supplements are also available.

Stay healthy with small changes

Avoiding dietary forms of cholesterol completely is difficult. Additionally, some people have certain risk factors, such as age, sex, race, and ethnicity, that can negatively affect cholesterol levels. However, if high LDL is a concern, modifiable actions are available to help lower bad cholesterol. Exercise regularly and keep weight under control. Avoid bad fats when possible and add fiber to the diet to reduce cholesterol absorption. Small changes can add up to make a big difference in overall health.