Cholesterol is a term familiar to many Filipinos, but not everyone pays enough attention to what it really does to the body. For starters, it’s important to understand what cholesterol is and the role it plays in the body.
Cholesterol is a type of fat, a waxy substance, that is found in all of your cells and is essential for the body’s metabolic processes, including helping build the structure of cell membranes, producing hormones (including testosterones and estrogen), vitamin D, and bile acids, which help break down fats.
It is attached to proteins called lipoproteins and is carried through your bloodstream by two key transport systems, which include:
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the “good cholesterol,” removes excess or other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream and transports them back to the liver for disposal.
low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as the “bad cholesterol,” transports cholesterol into tissues and, oftentimes, leaves them there. When we have too many of the bad ones that cause clogging in the arteries, we become at risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke.
To make sure that we stay healthy, we need to keep our cholesterol levels in check. Below are a few simple lifestyle tips that can help us make sure of that:
1. Monitor cholesterol levels regularly
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years.
Cholesterol test is used to measure the amount of HDL and LDL cholesterols in the blood along with other types of fats. The desirable test results should have: low levels of LDL cholesterol and high levels of HDL cholesterol, otherwise it means we are at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Some of us think that we don’t need to have this done regularly especially if we’re not experiencing any symptoms, but having regular checkups will help detect early signs of high cholesterol.
2. Quit smoking
Did you know that the tar and carbon monoxide compounds in cigarettes damage the arteries and increase the level of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream? Imagine an injured passageway holding a lot of blood clots—both can never be good for the heart so it is important to avoid smoking.
3. Start exercising
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week significantly improves cardiovascular health.
If the schedule won’t permit frequent visits to the gym, make walking, using the stairs, and running a part of your daily routine to help manage cholesterol.
4. Eat healthy
The body produces its own cholesterol, which is why consuming too much food high in cholesterol is bad for our health. To limit the amount of cholesterol that goes into our body, we must avoid eating food high in saturated fat and trans fat which are often found in fatty meats, poultry skin and dairy among others.
Instead we should eat food high in omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and those rich in soluble fiber that can help manage our cholesterol levels. These helpful nutrients can be found in fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
5. Add plant sterols to your meals
A total daily intake of 2 grams of plant sterols as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
One refreshing and convenient way to consume plant sterols is by drinking Del Monte Heart Smart. It’s the only juice with Reducol ®, a blend of plant sterols that’s proven to help manage cholesterol. According to a clinical study, taking two servings of Del Monte Heart Smart everyday may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in 8 weeks, together with a balanced diet.
While some of these hacks are not always that easy to do, following these simple tips and lifestyle changes can go a long way in keeping our cholesterol levels in check.