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Conquering your Cholesterol

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Conquering your Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol, often referred to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Good cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein (HDL)[1] that, when at a healthy level, may protect against heart attack and stroke.[1] Bad cholesterol is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL)[1] and contributes to fatty buildups in arteries.[1] This narrows the arteries and increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, and peripheral artery disease.[1] 

There are multiple risk factors for high cholesterol such as certain health conditions, your lifestyle, and your family history.[2] Although other risk factors like age and family history, can’t be controlled, you can lower your risk for high cholesterol by changing behaviors.  

Here are some helpful tips on leading a healthy life and keeping your cholesterol under control:  

Make Healthy Eating Choices 

  • Limit foods high in saturated fat. Saturated fats come from animal products and tropical oils.[2] Some examples are cheese, fatty meats, and dairy based desserts.[2] 
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars.[2] Some examples are lean meats, seafood, fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.[2]  
  • Eat foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Foods high in fiber (such as oatmeal and beans), and unsaturated fats (such as avocados, vegetable oils, and nuts), help prevent and manage high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.[2] 

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

  • Excess body fat affects how your body uses cholesterol and slows your body’s ability to remove bad cholesterol from your blood.[2] This combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.[2] 
  • Work with your doctor on a food and fitness plan to help you maintain or reach a healthy weight.[2] 

Stay Active 

  • Regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.  
  • The Surgeon General recommends adults get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.[2] Some examples of moderate-intensity exercise are: brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming, etc.  
  • Make physical activity a part of your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store, do jumping jacks during commercials, park a little further away.[2] 

Quit Smoking  

  • Quitting smoking will lower your risk for heart disease. Smoking damages blood vessels and accelerates hardening of the arteries.[2]  
  • Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit.  
  • Learn more about ways to quit tobacco use at CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use website.[2]  

Limit Alcohol Consumption 

  • Too much alcohol can raise cholesterol levels. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, women should have no more than one.[2] 
  • Learn more at CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website.  

AFSPA is here to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower your cholesterol levels. Check out our Health Programs for more information.  


  

[1] “HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides.” Www.heart.org, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/hdl-good-ldl-bad-cholesterol-and-triglycerides.

[2] “Preventing High Cholesterol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Jan. 2020, www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/prevention.htm.

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