There are a lot of ailments that we have to watch out for these days. Thanks to technology and advancements in internal medicine, doctors can find unhealthy conditions before they become a dangerous problem. This is often the case with cholesterol.
High cholesterol is a serious problem in the U.S. Currently, 102 million Americans over 20 years old have high cholesterol (total level above 200 mg/dL). It’s a problem that can narrow arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. But people should be aware there are actually two types of cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is actually good since it helps clear cholesterol out of the body. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the bad cholesterol that you want to keep in check or plaque could build in the arteries.
Being told you have high cholesterol can be nerve-wracking since it impacts cardiovascular health. So what should you do to protect your health? Even without prescription medications you can take simple steps to lower your bad cholesterol.
Get a Lipid Profile
If you have high LDL cholesterol there’s only one way to find out since the condition doesn’t cause symptoms. A lipid profile is a blood test that measures both types of cholesterol. You’ll get a total cholesterol level as well as measurements for both HDL and LDL cholesterol. Ideally, LDL will be below 200 mg/dL.
The lipid profile will give you a good idea of where you stand and how much improvement needs to be made. If you have any questions make sure to ask your doctor for clarification.
Consider Using CBD Products
Before taking prescription drugs, it’s best to consider natural alternatives. No matter how you feel about the legalization of recreational marijuana, the medical benefits of cannabis consumption, particularly CBD consumption, are undeniable. Natural, organic CBD products have been shown to have high absorption rates without producing “high” effects. The benefit is strictly medical.
While it’s commonly known that cannabis products can relieve pain and nausea, few people realize it can also be used to keep cholesterol in check. New research is showing cannabidiol, a substance in cannabis sativa (hemp), has anti-inflammatory properties that are as effective as statins. The properties help promote plaque stabilization.
Clean Up Your Diet
One of the biggest risk factors for high cholesterol is weight. Generally speaking, high cholesterol risk increases as your weight increases. Obesity is a primary contributor to high cholesterol in childhood and adolescence. Health experts at the CDC recommend that children as young as two get their cholesterol checked if they are obese or overweight.
Whenever high cholesterol is a concern, a high-fiber, low-fat diet is best. Load your plate with:
- Lean meats
- Plant-based protein (beans, nuts)
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products
The goal is to maintain a healthy weight and avoid fats that encourage plaque buildup.
Invest in a Fitness Tracking App
Are you getting at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity a week? If the answer is no it’s time to make physical activity a weekly priority.
Failing to get the recommended amount of physical activity (2.5 hours of moderate activity or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity) can cause a cascade of health problems. Not surprisingly, increased risk of obesity and high cholesterol are two results of limited physical activity.
Fitness apps are a great way to make sure you’re getting enough daily activity. They can track your movements so that activity is automatically captured. You can also input information manually to clock exercise hours or the steps you take throughout the day.
Apps like MyFitnessPal are a great tool because they allow you to track your physical activity as well as what you eat. Look for apps that also provide tools and advice on activities for your physical capabilities.
If you smoke cigarettes, high cholesterol is one more reason to stop. When you smoke and have high cholesterol you’re at an increased risk for developing coronary artery disease. That means you’re more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke.
Studies have also shown that smoking causes more plaque to build up for two reasons. For starters, smoking reduces “good” HDL cholesterol. It also damages arteries, which causes plaque buildup.
Controlling high cholesterol often comes down to the lifestyle choices we make. Choosing to eat right, exercise and not smoke is the first step to lowering cholesterol and protecting your heart health.