How to keep your cholesterol under control?

High cholesterol is a health problem we often associate with adults, but children can also be affected. High cholesterol levels, along with other factors that put adults at risk for heart problems (high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of physical activity, and being overweight or obese).

The body gets cholesterol in two ways: by making it and from food. Most of the cholesterol we eat comes from animal fats found in foods such as meat, butter, margarine, milk, and fish. One of the easiest ways to lower cholesterol is to lower your intake of certain kinds of fats.

There are two kinds of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. HDL is often called the good kind of cholesterol because it helps remove unneeded cholesterol from the body. LDL is the bad cholesterol; its made up primarily of fat and is a particular risk factor for heart disease. So when you set out to lower cholesterol, you need to know your HDL number, your LDL number, and your total cholesterol number (which is not the total of your HDL and LDL cholesterol) too. The overall figure should be below 200 mg/dL. When you’ve reached 240 mg/dL you are considered to be at high risk.

Healthy Lifestyle tips

Regardless of your cholesterol levels, a proper diet and exercise are important to keep cholesterol levels under control, as well as maintain overall health. Here are some ways you can incorporate a nutritious diet and physical activity in your life:

(1) Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

(2) Choose lean meats. Lean cuts of meat (beef, pork, lamb) include round, sirloin, tenderloin, and chuck. For poultry, the leanest choice is skinless, white breast meat. Be sure to include fish, beans (peas, dried beans, lentils), and tofu in meals as healthy alternatives to meat

(3) Limit foods that are high in cholesterol, tans fats and saturated fats, high-fat milk and dairy products

(4) When cooking, do not use solid fats. Instead, use vegetable oil

(5) Avoid foods and drinks with a lot of sugar. Drink water instead

(6) Opt for healthy snacks, like fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, popcorn, and low-fat yogurt.

(7) Exercise, exercise, exercise...