The ABCs Of Cholesterol: Learning the Basics of Better Health

 

Do you ever wonder what you ought to know about cholesterol? You see the commercials, read the headlines, and get schooled by your doctor. Perhaps your parents discuss their levels, or your buddies are buckling down on their diets. But do you know the basics about cholesterol? Heck, do you even know what it is? 

While you may not have to become an expert on the matter, being better educated is important for your health. vybe urgent care is here to give you the tips you need to keep your cholesterol in check, and the rest of your health too. Now, let’s dig in (no pun intended).

 

What’s cholesterol, anyway?

It’s best to start with the basics. According to Medline Plus, “cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body.” It’s needed in the body to produce hormones and Vitamin D, and also aids in the digestive process. A healthy body produces the proper amount on its own, but we also get cholesterol from some of the foods we consume. 

 

The good, the bad, and the ugly

When we hear about cholesterol, “bad” tends to come to mind. But like the above section explains, some cholesterol is required for our bodies to function. That said, there are different kinds of cholesterol — one type we want around and another that’s potentially harmful. We’ll break it down this way:

  • HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) is the good stuff. It helps the liver rid the body of cholesterol we don’t need. 
  • LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. This impacts the organs and can lead to serious consequences such as heart attack or stroke, as well as an increased chance of high blood pressure. This is the type we don’t want in our systems. When the doc says you have high cholesterol, it’s the LDL level that’s concerning. 

 

Where is cholesterol lurking?

Fatty meats and fried foods are no-brainers when it comes to foods that can raise your cholesterol levels. But there are other not-so-obvious foods that are also chock-full of saturated and/or trans fats (which can raise cholesterol). If you are watching what you eat, you may want to limit your consumption of the foods listed below, or perhaps avoid them altogether.

According to Medical News Today, some common cholesterol bombs to beware of include lamb, shortening, dairy products made from whole milk, coconut oil, pre-packaged pastries, frosting (the kind in a tub), and poultry with the skin on. Even coffee creamer can be a culprit! Yikes.

Fast food may be convenient, but the abundance of saturated and trans fats can contribute to increased cholesterol levels, making the drive-thru a health disaster. There are plenty of other sources of cholesterol out there as well, so always read the labels or go online for answers. This cholesterol chart can be helpful for quick reference.

 

The great egg debate

Eggs and their effect on cholesterol are constantly up for debate. Are they healthful or harmful? Depending upon who you ask or which study you stick to, their impact on your cholesterol levels is a topic that seems to shift as science evolves.

The latest information from the Heart Foundation states that eggs are safe to consume — even up to seven per week. Eggs do contain cholesterol, but “the cholesterol in eggs has almost no effect on your blood cholesterol levels.” Phew!

More important than fretting about eggs, take note of the levels of saturated and trans fats in ALL of your food. Nutrition labels list this information, so be proactive before packing your grocery bags. That said, unless new research proves otherwise, you’re alright to keep eggs on your grocery list but try to eat them in moderation.

Remember to cook them as plain and simple as you can — the simpler they are, they healthier they end up being. Poached eggs are tasty and good for you, and the same goes for hard boiled eggs! Try to refrain from adding heaps of cheese, salt, or oils. 

 

Lower your cholesterol — naturally

There are steps you can take to help lower your cholesterol on your own — but you should always take your doctor’s advice, of course. Making simple lifestyle changes that can make a difference! Here are a few of our tips:

  • Get moving. Exercise is essential. It helps keep your HDL levels in check…remember, that’s the “good” kind.
  • Lose a few pounds. The number on your scale is important, especially if you’re packing a few extra pounds. According to WebMD, If you drop just 10 pounds, you’ll cut your LDL by up to 8%
  • Eat better. Your diet makes all the difference. Lay off the fatty foods and embrace better nutrition. Load up on fiber-rich foods. They’ll help reduce how much cholesterol your body absorbs. Nuts have been shown to work similarly. And get some other “good fats” into your system by way of omega-3 fatty acids. Think salmon and walnuts as a smart start.
  • Cut down on drinking — alcohol, that is. While moderation is always key, less is more in terms of alcohol’s effect on cholesterol, as well as overall health.
  • Quit smoking. Aside from a million other reasons to stop, quitting smoking may affect your cholesterol levels for the better.  

 

There’s a lot to know about cholesterol and how it affects your body. If you have any questions, you can talk about cholesterol with a vybe urgent care clinician. Find the location nearest you to be proactive about your health.