Normal levels of cholesterol are below 200 mg/DL usually indicating that risks are relatively low for heart disease. Borderline levels range between 200-239 mg/DL and most physicians will recommend a low cholesterol diet including lowering intake of saturated fat. High risk is 240 mg/DL or above and risks of heart disease and stroke are much greater for individuals with higher levels. Diagnosis of higher levels will usually mean a change of diet along with taking prescription medication. There are several medications that have had much success associated with treatment but change of lifestyle will also contribute to lower lipids and increase HDL cholesterol. To further study blood lipids, labs usually record a specific factor within the blood broken down into good cholesterol called HDL (high density lipoprotein) and bad called LDL (low density lipoprotein). Higher levels of HDL, above 40 mg/DL are much better at combating heart disease.
Aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, riding a bike, or swimming may help to increase heart rate and increase HDL cholesterol. With busy lifestyles it is often difficult to find time to exercise but it is an important lifestyle change that will not only raise HDL levels but helps one to lose weight contributing to other major health improvements. Seek out a physical fitness trainer who can give support and encouragement when needed as well as guide one into a safe but effective exercise program. Find an exercise that is enjoyable and doesn’t feel like a burden and in doing so it will be much easier to maintain and continue day after day.
A physician will normally recommend losing weight along with exercise to give an additional benefit towards obtaining normal levels of cholesterol. A dietitian can suggest diet related changes when having difficulty in understanding or implementing the changes alone. There are many sites online that offer good advice on eating healthy to help increase HDL cholesterol and provide health benefits. Some sites even offer recipes that are low in saturated fat along with low sodium and low sugar alternatives. Recommendations also include the elimination of foods that contain trans fatty acids. Many prepared foods contain trans fats and are listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.” Eliminating saturated fatty acids, from a diet, will provide cardiac benefits.
Recommendations to further benefit an individual trying to lower cholesterol include the cessation of drinking alcoholic beverages and the elimination of smoking. Smoking raises heart rate and blood pressure because of arteries constricting. Drinking too much alcohol can also be detrimental to health and has been linked to liver disease, increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Drinking has also been linked to esophagus, mouth, and throat cancer and some studies have contributed heavy drinking with breast cancer. Alcohol and cigarettes are both addictive substances and can be difficult to quit especially if one has been using them for years. Get some help if an addiction is suspected by asking a physician for recommendations and ways to quit and find out how this can help to provide normal levels of cholesterol in the blood. There are some prescription medications that can been helpful when trying to quit smoking. Join a support group or church organization. Christian counselors on staff with a church organization can help with spiritual healing and give some valuable advice and direction using Biblical principles to help with addictions and the depression they can cause. “But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me” (Psalm 22:19).
Lipids or cholesterol in the blood are necessary for building cells within the body but normal levels of cholesterol should be maintained since higher lipids can cause major health problems. It is also important to have triglycerides checked since high levels can be a sign of impending heart disease and stroke. Triglycerides provide energy for the cells to function but high levels can cause health problems. When LDL levels are too high they tend to stick to arteries and can increase the chance of being diagnosed with hardening of the arteries which leads to heart disease and stroke. An increase HDL cholesterol molecule helps to clean blood vessel walls removing excess lipids. High triglycerides can have a detrimental affect on HDL lipids within the body and have been linked to diabetes.
Several factors can cause elevated lipid levels in the blood including heredity, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, age, gender, and being overweight. Some of these factors can be controlled and some can’t. Obviously heredity, age, and gender cannot be changed but diet, exercise, and being overweight can be altered to present positive effects to the body and bring about increased well being and provide many health benefits. One of these health benefits is bringing lipids down in order to maintain normal levels of cholesterol. Being overweight, not exercising, and feeling poorly can be enough of a reason to see a physician and have blood lipids and fats checked. While waiting for a doctor’s appointment, begin doing some research online regarding an exercise program, eating properly, and ways to increase HDL cholesterol.