Most people who keep an eye on their health and visit the doctor regularly know they need to watch their cholesterol level. Two important components of your cholestrol profile are your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.
LDL (low density lipoproteins) are the bad cholesterol. Some LDL comes from saturated fats in foods like egg yolks, butter, cheese, meat and poultry. This “bad cholesterol” can clog arteries by sticking to artery walls, building up plaque, and reducing blood supply to vital organs, including the brain and heart. The higher your LDL, the greater your risk of heart attack and stroke.
HDL (high density lipoproteins) are like the anti-LDL. HDL acts like a vacuum cleaner, attaching to LDL and carrying it out of the blood stream, preventing plaque buildup. When it comes to HDL, the higher the number the better! Here are 5 easy things you can do to lower your LDL and increase HDL.
1. Avoid Fried Foods: Yes, that means the tasty chicken boxes from your favorite fried chicken food chains. Most foods re fried in oils containing saturated fats that can raise LDL. If you must fry, consider using oils high in unsaturated fats. These unsaturated fat oils are healthier to fry in. Try canola oil, olive oil and flax seed oil.
2. Get Moving for 30 minutes or more a day: If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, particularly to keep your weight within a good range. Exercise, especially the aerobic kind, has positive benefits when it comes to increasing your HDL and lowering your LDL. So get that heart rate up and stay moving for at least 30 minutes to realize benefits for improving your cholesterol profile.
3. Eat More Fiber: We all know that fiber helps the intestines to break down food and maintain regularity, but it also helps remove LDL from the body. Fiber attaches to LDL in the food, carrying it through the digestive tract. Consider increasing your intake of foods like kale, apples, bran muffins and the like.
4. Reduce Your Intake of Simple Carbohydrates: You might not know this one, but white pasta, bread and sugar can negatively impact your cholesterol, raising LDL and lowering HDL. Your best bet is to avoid sugar and simple carbs as much as you can.
5. Have One Serving of Alcohol Daily: You might have heard of the French Paradox. This refers to the fact that French people have healthy cholesterol levels despite eating diets rich in saturated fats. Initially, red wine was given credit for keeping cholesterol levels low, but in actually any alcohol will raise HDL and lower LDL. The key is moderation – no more than 2 servings of alcohol a day can add this benefit.
There’s more to a healthy cholesterol profile than that single number referred to as Total Cholesterol. It’s important that you understand the additional components of your cholesterol profile and how they affect your health.
Keeping your HDL high and your LDL low is essential to minimizing your risk of heart attack and stroke. When is comes to levels, aim for HDL of 60 or higher, and remember: the higher, the better!