Did you know that cholesterol is so essential to life that if you did not get enough cholesterol through food, your liver will make some? It’s true! Every cell in your body contains cholesterol, which is a waxy substance used to make hormones. Your body also uses cholesterol to make vitamin D and create substances that help you digest food.
While your body needs a small amount of cholesterol for good health, too much of the stuff in your bloodstream can lead to disease. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, which is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.
More than 102 million American adults have unhealthy cholesterol levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 35 million of these individuals have cholesterol levels high enough to put them at risk for heart disease.
There are a few different types of cholesterol; some are unhealthy while others are not. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a type of “bad” cholesterol that can accumulate on the inside of your blood vessels and block the flow of blood to your heart, lungs, brains or other organs. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is “good” cholesterol that works to lower your LDL and your overall total cholesterol.
Fortunately, you can take steps right away to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease.
1. Cut Out Unhealthy Fat
2. Choose Healthier Foods, Including Healthier Fats
4. Lose Weight
5. Consider Some Lifestyle Changes
Quitting smoking can lower your cholesterol. Putting out that cigarette can also reduce your blood pressure and heart rate to decrease your risk for heart disease. Drink alcohol in moderation. While the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet includes small amounts of red wine, the benefits may not be strong enough to justify the associated risk for high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and other serious health problems.
These five steps may seem like small changes but they add up to very big health benefits.