This is part 1 of an on-going series on Chocolate Slopes regarding cholesterol levels and how to manage and lower your levels (or a loved one’s).
It’s very likely you or someone you know has high cholesterol. It’s no laughing matter. And I’m not just a dietitian wanting to preach about how to lower cholesterol levels. My husband (Dan) had his labs drawn recently and his levels were quite high.
This just got personal.
I counseled plenty of patients who had high cholesterol but it never hit so close to home until now. My husband has had near, or just above ideal cholesterol and triglyceride levels for the last 8 to 10 years. He has gotten them checked about every 3 to 5 years. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests having your levels checked every 4 to 6 years after the age of 20. Did you know that high cholesterol greatly increases your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke? It’s not something you want to take lightly!
Honestly, this was a slight blow to my dietitian ego, which it really shouldn’t be since I cook healthy the majority of the time and we rarely eat out these days but still, I couldn’t help but feel that way briefly (I’m sure other dietitians can relate!). I also know that cholesterol levels can be affected by several factors including: diet, weight, smoking, physical activity, age and genes). The latter being Dan’s biggest issue we believe.
Now onto the basics…
THE BASICS OF CHOLESTEROL
First thing you need to know are your own personal cholesterol numbers. If you’re over the age of 20, you should know your levels or go get them checked at your physician’s office.
So what is cholesterol and what are the different types?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your body and food. Your body makes cholesterol and circulates it through your blood, but it cannot dissolve in your bloodstream. Thus, when there is excess cholesterol it will build up and create plaque in your arteries.
LDL (bad) Cholesterol: contributes to the plaque build-up in your arteries which can cause arteries to become narrower and clogged, eventually leading to heart attack or stroke.
HDL (good) Cholesterol: helps to move LDL cholesterol away from your arteries reducing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Triglycerides: the most common type of fat found in your body. Triglycerides are made in your body but also found in food.
You will find the same information below to help you keep track of your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
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Now get your levels checked or ask your physician for your latest numbers! Stay tuned to how to start improving your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by adjusting your diet!
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