Have a Hart Fit Tip – Control Your Cholesterol

2014-08-10 13.21.47

HEALTH:

Research has suggested that there is a link between stress and abnormal levels of fats in the blood. Those with stressful jobs were found to have higher levels of “bad” LDL  and lower levels of “good” HDL which may increase risk of heart disease. So what can you do to reduce your risk?

EXERCISE:

Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your LDL level and increase your HDL  levels. So why not build a regular, gentle workout into your timetable to help encourage a healthier balance? Aerobic activities such as brisk walking, running and cycling are especially good at conditioning the heart and increasing circulation.

NUTRITION:

When trying to balance cholesterol levels, try the following simple swaps:-

  • Swap red meat for fish, poultry and vegetable proteins (beans, lentils, quinoa) at least twice a week
  • Swap high fat dairy products for lower fat alternatives
  • Swap butter and other saturated fats for mono-saturated oils such as olive oil
  • Swap trans fats from fast foods for essential fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds
  • Swap refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white pasta etc.) for fibre-rich whole grain alternatives (such as wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice and oats)

What Affects Levels?

A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are things you can do something about:

  • Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise. Saturated fat is the main problem, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
  • Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as raise your HDL and lower your triglyceride levels.
  • Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should aim to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.

Things outside of your control that also can affect levels include:

  • Age and Gender. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
  • Heredity. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families.

What should my cholesterol levels be?

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.

As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:

  • 5 mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 4 mmol/L or less for those at high risk

As a general guide, LDL levels should be:

  • 3 mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 2 mmol/L or less for those at high risk

An ideal level of HDL is above 1 mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.

Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.

However, cholesterol is only one risk factor and the level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.

Thank you for reading and stay healthy.

Have a Hart Fit Tip – Control Your Cholesterol