National Cholesterol Education Month

By Debra Staton, Wellness Coordinator for the Arkansas Health Network

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, making it a prime time to encourage people to pay attention to their cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the body. The LDL (low – density lipoprotein) is referred to as the “bad” cholesterol. This bad cholesterol collects in the walls of your blood vessels. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke. I like to call this “lousy” so you want to keep these numbers low. However, your HDL (high – density lipoprotein) is what absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which then flushes it from the body. I like to call this my “happy” ones and keep my numbers high. This can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Begin, by making some lifestyle changes and improve your numbers. Your heart will thank you! Sometimes, these changes are not easy; however, you can customize your lifestyle change and make it work for you. So, you might find yourself having a little fun along the way!

It is important to eat heart health foods, but you don’t have to eat the same foods all the time. Try choosing some exotic fruits and veggies and varying the color a bit. A healthy bowl of fruit salad with a variety of fruits, nuts & even a hint of coconut is scrumptious to the palate. Vegetables can be delicious if you grill then and trying spicing it up with something different. Top it off with a piece of salmon and savor every bite.

Your heart loves a good workout! Even if you don’t like to exercise, you can find something fun to do. Try turning on the music and move your feet and feel the beat! If it is not dancing, find your own beat to whatever you like to do.

Carrying around extra weight can contribute to high cholesterol. Losing weight can be tough, but you will reap the benefits. A healthy diet and exercise will put you on the right track. Remember, your diet can be customized by you as well as your exercise routine.

If you are a smoker, it might not be as easy as just quitting. However, there are many support groups there to help. Good to know fact: Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike.

Take the step today toward a healthier lifestyle by learning more about your heart health!

Find Heart Healthy Recipes by clicking here.