If you're an adult you should get a physical complete with blood work at least once a year. High density lipoproteins (HDL} are small and dense. These molecules carry cholesterol to the liver where it can be excreted. HDL is less likely to be deposited as plaque compared to low density lipoprotein (LDL) which is most of the cholesterol in your blood. Triglycerides are a form of circulating fat in the blood.
Here's a quick guide to the numbers:
Your total cholesterol level should not be greater than 200 mg/dL
Your high density lipoproteins (HDL), good cholesterol, should be greater than 40 mg/dL
Your low density lipoprotein (LDL), bad cholesterol, should be less than 100 mg/dL
Your triglyceride levels should be below 150 mg/dL
If your numbers are out of this range, then you could be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Upon reviewing your test results with you, your doctor could recommend that you take a statin like Lipitor, but these cholesterol lowering drugs can cause side effects, such as muscle weakness, digestive problems or elevated liver enzymes.
As Richard M. Fleming, M.D. in the anti aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now,” raised the question, rather than take something to counteract a substance that you consume; doesn't it make more sense to avoid the problematic substance to begin with?
Here are some eating tips to keep in mind:
Avoid saturated fats. Saturated fat is converted by your body into cholesterol. Saturated fat is most often found in meats or dairy products. This means taking the skin off chicken and not consuming a lot of red meat like steak. Dairy can be good for you as a source of calcium that is better assimilated by the body than if you consume it in supplements, but if you eat dairy, favor non fat or low fat dairy products. Coconut oil and palm oil also contain saturated fats. Watch for these in baked goods.
Eaten cholesterol is not converted to blood cholesterol by most people, however foods high in cholesterol usually are high in saturated fat.
Absolutely shun all trans fats such as those labeled partially hydrogenated. These fats not only increase the bad cholesterol, they lower the good cholesterol.
Healthy fats are those found in olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts and seeds. When choosing peanut butter make sure it is nothing more than ground peanuts with a bit of salt.
Cut back on sugar. According to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who ate the most added sugar had the lowest HDL and highest triglyceride levels. People who ate the least amount of sugar had the highest HDL and lowest triglyceride level.
Eat more soluble fiber like the pectin found in apples or the fiber in oatmeal.
Add plant sterols and stanols. They are similar chemically to cholesterol. Consuming them will help limit your blood cholesterol. You can find them added as supplements to many foods.
Eating right is not enough. Exercise has a big hand in lowering cholesterol as well. Exercise stimulates enzymes that move LDL from the walls of blood vessels and from the blood itself to the liver where it is processed and excreted. Although even moderate exercise can increase longevity, according to a 2002 Duke University Medical Center study, those who exercised the hardest had the most dramatic cholesterol lowering effect.
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To see how one baby boomer is applying anti-aging precepts to his own life, go to Anti-Aging Diary.com. To embrace anti-aging you need to make a mental as well as physical journey. It's not always easy, but well worth the effort. Remember to watch our anti-aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now.
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