High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease. Cholesterol is a thick substance that can accumulate in the arteries leading to the heart. The accumulated plaque restricts the flow of blood to the heart. The result is a lack of oxygen. This could cause chest pains, fatigue, and eventually a stroke or heart attack. Cholesterol management is an effective treatment for heart disease. Management means reducing the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in a diet, increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL) when possible, and exercising regularly. Some individuals who already have high cholesterol levels might need to take medications as well.
One of the main sources of LDL or bad cholesterol is food. A major part of cholesterol management is eating a healthy diet. Foods that contain high levels of LDL need to be avoided as much as possible. These types of foods are generally high in saturated fats. This includes high-fat fast foods, processed foods and full-fat dairy products. A good diet should include foods that promote the development of HDL. HDL helps to reduce LDL in the body. Foods that will help increase good cholesterol levels include olive oil, fish, and nuts. A good diet should also include whole grains that help to reduce LDL levels and improve overall health. Fruits and vegetables are essential as well, since they provide vitamins and fiber.
Exercise is a very important part of cholesterol management. Exercise keeps the body functioning normally. It strengthens the muscles in the heart, lowers the levels of cholesterol in the body and prevents the development of complications that could result in a heart attack or stroke. Inactivity is a major contributing factor to the development of heart disease. A good cholesterol management plan should include no less than 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week. This should also include two days of light to moderate strength training. Individuals who have very high levels of cholesterol or who have had heart issues previously should check with a doctor before starting any cholesterol management exercise plan.
Part of cholesterol management for many people is medication. Medications help to prevent the accumulation of plaque in the arteries and could actually start to lower cholesterol levels very quickly. Statins are the most common medication for high cholesterol. Statins work by blocking the ability of the kidneys to produce cholesterol. This lowers LDL levels and provides a slight increase in HDL levels. Unfortunately, statins do have a few side effects. They can cause liver damage, high blood sugar levels, and confusion.