Dear Ask Alison
I recently had a cholesterol screening, and my numbers were a bit high. Do you have any suggestions for reading materials about how to help raise good cholesterol levels?
~ Lisa C., O’Fallon
What it is: Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance, which exists in our cells and is carried throughout the bloodstream attached to proteins called lipoproteins.
Why we need it: There are two types of cholesterol. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” stuff that can build up in your blood vessels, narrow the passageways, and cause heart attack or stroke. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” stuff that takes excess cholesterol from your bloodstream and delivers it to the liver to be broken down.
How to manage it: There are genetic factors associated with high cholesterol, but research has shown that for many people, lifestyle can have a significant impact on your cholesterol levels.
In addition to living tobacco-free and maintaining a healthy weight, here are some ways that may help you boost the “good” and lower the “bad.”
- Resveratrol: Found in grapes and red wine. Resveratrol may help reduce blood clotting by expanding blood vessels. It may also work as an anti-inflammatory. Find out more.
- Polyunsaturated Fats: Found in plant oils and nuts (Omega 6) and fatty fish (Omega 3). Our bodies do not make these naturally, but these essential fatty acids support the body’s cell growth and brain function and can help lower LDL. Here's more information about Polyunsaturated Fats.
- Exercise: Found almost anywhere! Here are a few ideas to get started: http://www.askalison.org/blog/category/fitness! Exercise can help lower LDL and raise HDL. To get these benefits, 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is recommended. That’s only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week! Learn more about the benefits of exercise.
Check out the chart below for learn more about what your cholesterol numbers mean from the National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus Magazine
National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What is Cholesterol? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc#
National Institutes of Health of Health and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.