5 Ways to Be Smart About Cholesterol At Any Age

At what age do you think the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people start having their cholesterol levels checked? Forty-five? Twenty-eight? Thirty-seven? Even if you somehow managed to guess twenty, you’re still only partially right. The AHA says it is important, even at a young age, to have a cholesterol test, especially if your family has a history of heart disease. Equally dangerous misconceptions about cholesterol AHA explains are thinking that if you are thin, or haven’t heard from your doctor about cholesterol, you are in the clear. Cholesterol can affect anyone, meaning anyone can be at risk for coronary heart disease if they have high cholesterol.

Fortunately, just as anyone can be affected, anyone can modify their lifestyle to manage cholesterol. The key is to look for long-term changes, and elevate HDL the “good” cholesterol while lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. Both types circulate in the blood, but LDL builds up in the inner walls of the arteries, eventually forming a plaque. It is a condition known as atherosclerosis and can result in heart attacks or strokes. HDL seems to protect against heart attacks, and may carry cholesterol to the liver, allowing it to be passed from the body. Find out five simple, natural ways to manage cholesterol anyone can incorporate into their lives.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelhathaway/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelhathaway/

1. Increase Dietary Fiber to Decrease Cholesterol

Dietary fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, especially soluble fiber. This kind of fiber, Dr. James Beckerman, a cardiologist, says ”acts like a sponge to absorb cholesterol.” The Mayo Clinic explains that soluble fiber lowers LDL and lessens the blood stream’s absorption of cholesterol. Foods high in soluble fiber include: oatmeal, oat bran, barley, and dried beans.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/serzhanja/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/serzhanja/

2. Make Moving Part of Your Routine

Adding activity, no matter how much you weigh, can help lower cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic lists simple changes, such as taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour or riding your bike to work can produce cholesterol lowering results. It only takes moderate activity for thirty minutes a day, five days a week. The benefits will come even if you break it down into segments, participating in activity for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mollyeh11/

3. Sort Out the Facts on Fats

Guidelines published by AHA apply to anyone over the age of two, further pushing the idea that it is never too early to start thinking about cholesterol health. An individual’s total fat intake should be between 25 and 35 percent of their caloric intake. AHA breaks this down further: saturated fat should be less than 7 percent of calories, and trans fat less than 1 percent. The remainder of daily fat intake can come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A few examples of this type of fat include: salmon, avocados, olives, walnuts, and liquid vegetable oils. Plus now, that you have fats figured out, you can be prepared for the next point on our list.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67238971@N04/

4. Change Cooking Habits

The AHA provides tips for reducing saturated fats while cooking. Intake should not exceed six ounces of poultry or lean meat as part of a 2,000 calorie a day diet. AHA helps beyond just ounce restrictions for optimizing heart health. In picking poultry, chicken, and turkey are lower in fat than duck or goose. Trimming fat off cuts of meat before cooking, or removing skin lowers the fat intake as well.

Beckerman identifies saturated fats as one of the biggest culprits of high, bad cholesterol levels, more so than foods high in cholesterol. ”You don’t want to be throwing down six eggs a day, but recent data suggest that it’s really saturated fat.”

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24337668@N07/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24337668@N07/

5. Pump Iron to Pump Up Heart Health

If you are really seeking to change your lifestyle, want another reason for than a moderate level of activity, or to know another health perk you’re getting from the gym — then consider this. AHA says that spending twenty-five minutes, three days a week partaking in vigorous activity, plus two days or more of moderate-to-high intensity strength training will accrue even more health benefits.

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