The type of cholesterol that puts you at risk of developing heart disease is called low density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL collects in the blood vessel walls where it eventually causes blockages. The higher your LDL levels are, the higher your risk for a heart attack.
But aside from the fact the LDL cholesterol is bad cholesterol, there’s more to it that people should be aware of. Cholesterol, in general, isn’t really bad. Actually, it’s an essential fat needed for building cells.
Facts About LDL Cholesterol
Cholesterol levels are measured in mg per tenth liter or dL of blood. Your total cholesterol level is the sum of your LDL and HDL and should be below 200mg/dL. Your LDL cholesterol should not exceed 130 mg/dL while your HDL should be no less than 35 mg/dL. Ideally, you should have a low LDL and high HDL.
The level of bad cholesterol is often evaluated when checking a person’s risk of heart disease because it is considered an important marker for assessing risks. In men and women, there is a convincing and graded correlation between the risk of cardiovascular disease and LDL cholesterol even though it continues to be debated by the medical community. The European Society of Cardiology states that lowering LDL must be a primary concern in the prevention of CVD based on the results of clinical trials.
How to Lower Elevated LDL Cholesterol Levels?
There are several ways you can lower your LDL level cholesterol. The first would be by changing your diet. A balanced diet that is high in fiber and nutrients can significantly help reduce your LDL level. You should eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and fish. Stay away from fatty foods like red meat, dairy and eggs.
Exercise is also another way to lower LDL cholesterol. You don’t have to engage in long and strenuous exercises. Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day can do wonders for your heart health and at the same time, help you stay fit.
Avoiding trans fat as well as limiting saturated fats also helps lower LDL cholesterol. Trans fats are found in vegetable oils, which is unfortunately the source of 75% of the trans fat in American diets. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are found in beef, lamb, butter, milk, cream, pork, poultry and some kinds of oils. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your intake of saturated fat to below 7% of your total calories per day.
Health care experts also recommend the use of supplements like omega-3 fish oils, green tea extract, and other dietary supplements that are known to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. But do consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Everyone should get their cholesterol levels checked every 5 years starting at the age of 20. But take note that risk levels usually don’t show until later in life which is why men should regularly monitor (every year) their levels beginning at age 45, while women should start getting checked regularly by the age of 55 or when they undergo menopause which is usually the time when their levels start to rise.