September is Healthy Aging month! One great way to begin to think about staying healthy as you age is to learn about cholesterol including what your cholesterol levels mean and how high cholesterol can impact your overall wellbeing.
Cholesterol can be a confusing medical topic. There are measurements to understand, food and diet changes to consider, and lifestyle choices to factor in. So, let’s start with the basics.
What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese.
There is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol and knowing the difference is important.
Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL), removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. Bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), delivers cholesterol to the body. High amounts of bad cholesterol in the blood can lead to a buildup of in arteries. That can restrict blood flow to the heart and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
High cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms. A simple blood test can measure your cholesterol levels to make sure they are in a normal range for your age, weight and family history. If your cholesterol is high, your doctor can prescribe medication to lower it. In addition, you can lower your cholesterol by making some healthy aging lifestyle changes:
- Eat a low fat and high fiber diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Develop an exercise routine that includes at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day
Lowering your cholesterol will reduce your risk for heart disease so you can achieve or maintain a healthy lifestyle as you age. For more information and other tips about your heart visit our website here.