What is Cholesterol?

February 05, 2020

Paper with words HDL cholesterol, LDL and cholesterol
Rasheed Huma

Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. Most of it is naturally produced by your liver while the remainder comes through dietary sources. Cholesterol, when present in normal amounts is vital for several functions, such as the formation of cells, vitamin D, and certain hormones. It’s only when it exceeds its normal levels that problems arise.

In your blood, cholesterol is transported in the form of lipoproteins, which are a combo of fat and protein. The two major forms of lipoprotein are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

HDL, also known as the good cholesterol, carries cholesterol from other parts of the body to your liver to be broken down and removed from your body. LDL, on the other hand, is the major vehicle for the transport of cholesterol to your body parts, including arteries. When LDL gets high in your blood, it can clog the arteries, leading to diseases like hypertension, angina, heart attack, and stroke.

It’s therefore of utmost importance to keep the bad cholesterol from rising too high and lowering your odds of heart, blood vessel, and brain disease. Since LDL-cholesterol makes up most of the total cholesterol, we’ll use the terms bad (LDL) cholesterol and cholesterol interchangeably.

TIPS TO PREVENT HIGH CHOLESTEROL

1. Watch out your Diet

As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat,” if you put unhealthy stuff inside your body, your cholesterol levels and hence your risk of heart disease go high. So, make sure to fuel your body with only a cholesterol-and-heart-friendly diet.  

Some of the best dietary tweaks to keep your cholesterol levels in a healthy range, include:

Avoiding foods that contain trans fats altogether

Trans fats are the worst type of dietary fats. Manufacturers produce these artificial fats through a chemical process that converts healthy oils into solids.

Foods high in trans fats include:

  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods (cakes, cookies, doughnuts, frozen pizza, stick margarine)
  • Fast and processed foods

Cutting back on foods that contain saturated fats

Saturated fats may not be as worse as trans fats but still not very healthy. The American Heart Association (AHA), therefore, recommends getting only 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat. Research shows that swapping saturated fats with unsaturated, or good fats can lower total cholesterol by 9% and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 11% in as little as eight weeks.

Foods high in saturated fats include:

  • Animal-based products, such as red meat and whole-fat dairy
  • Vegetable oils like palm and coconut oils

Heaping on fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains

These are always loaded with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that can prevent high cholesterol and thus protect your heart health on several fronts.

Consuming more Seafood

Packed with the heart-friendly unsaturated (good) fats called omega-3 fatty acids, fish may also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The AHA recommends consuming two 3.5-ounce servings of nonfried fish (or about three-fourths of a cup of flaked fish) per week.

2. Ditch the Sitting Behavior

We all know the popular slogan in the health and medical arena today that “sitting is the new smoking.” Hence, it’s no surprise how excessive sitting can wreak havoc on your body weight, cholesterol, and heart health. The extra pound of fat around your waistline that stems from a sedentary lifestyle can increase your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol levels.

Invest in an Electric Height Adjustable Desk

One of the easiest ways to cut back the time spent on sitting is to use a standing desk for work. The FlexiSpot electric height-adjustable desk EN1 - 48" W allows you to alternate between sitting and standing periodically. While the desk comes with several bells and whistles, its most outstanding feature is its convenient activity alerts that can be set up to remind you to sit or stand at regular intervals. So, you never have to worry about any leg fatigue due to prolonged standing or the hoard of ill effects of extended sitting.

Get more Active with an Exercise Bike

A daily brisk walk or bike ride can also boost the ”good” HDL cholesterol levels, which in turn, help to sweep away the extra “bad” LDL cholesterol out of your system. Staying active and spending less time sitting will also help you shed the extra pounds, which in turn, will maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The AHA recommends getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week to keep your heart function at its optimal level.  

To get your heart pumping and keeping extra pounds and high cholesterol at bay, FlexiSpot suggests pedaling at work, watching tv, or doing any other activity that requires you to sit by using its under-desk bike V9U. Given its countless benefits, this under-desk bike could be your next best standing desk mate.

  • You can adjust your V9U to your needs with its user-friendly pneumatic adjustment level that enables you to move the seat up or down with gentle press while you pedal quietly.
  • Its compact design allows it to tuck perfectly below any standing desk, making it an ideal addition to your workstation.
  • Pedaling the bike for as little as 30 minutes every day will help to speed the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body as well as burn calories.
  • With its state-of-the-art LCD-display, you can also track time, distance, and calories burned etc.

3. Quit smoking

Smoking negatively impacts your cholesterol levels. It tends to promote the buildup of fatty deposits inside your arteries, leading to heart and blood vessel disease. Hence, quitting smoking is another way to improve your cholesterol levels and lowering your odds of repeat heart attacks and death from heart disease by 50% or more.

4. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of unhealthy fats in your blood, and hence, bring about many repercussions, including but not limited to obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Therefore, to keep your cholesterol levels within a normal range, consume alcohol only in moderation. 

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