It seems like we are bombarded with health information reminding us of the importance of maintaining low cholesterol levels, but it's seldom understood which types of cholesterol should be monitored and which need to be sustained. Our bodies need some cholesterol to efficiently function, and while most cholesterol is naturally produced, it is what we consume that causes good versus bad cholesterol. Here is an overview on why good cholesterol is key, the proper levels and some nutritional ways to eliminate unnecessary cholesterol:
Consequences of poor cholesterol
This waxy, fat-like substance is found in all cells of our body and works to make hormones, produce vitamin D and other substances that help us digest food. Because we are essentially able to produce all the cholesterol we need on our own, monitoring our food intake is the most effective way to retain healthy cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is moved around through your body in small bundles called lipoproteins, compiled out of fat on the inside and protein and the outside. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the two types of lipoproteins, with HDL often being referred to as "good" cholesterol and LDL as "bad."
While HDL helps collect excess amounts of cholesterol throughout your body and send it to your liver for disposal, LDL carries cholesterol to all parts of the body, especially the arteries that supply blood to the heart. When too much LDL is developed, the walls of your arteries become built up with cholesterol, which can slow down blood flow, disrupt cardiovascular activity and elevate your risk of heart disorder.
The right levels to maintain
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that everyone aged 20 and over should get their cholesterol levels checked at a minimum of every five years, with more frequent check ups as you age. When you get your levels examined, the doctor will test for your lipoprotein profile, which consists of four components that include total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides, which are another form of fat in your blood.
A healthy level of cholesterol is determined to be the following:
- Total cholesterol should be under 200 milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood
- LDL cholesterol should be under 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol should be slightly above 60 mg/dL
- Triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dL
If your total cholesterol levels are found to be at 240 mg/dL or higher, that is when finding a way to lower cholesterol should become a top priority for your health. In addition, any LDL cholesterol levels found to be above 160 mg/dL is also considered to put you at risk for artery blockage.
Tips to lower cholesterol
While nutrition is essential for keeping healthy cholesterol levels stable, there are plenty of lifestyle modifications that can be made to help get your number lower. Receiving frequent physical activity, losing weight and avoid tobacco use can easily make a positive impact on your cholesterol levels, on top of a healthy diet. As for eating habits, try consuming foods that are rich in soluble fiber, which help absorb cholesterol from the intestines and reducing the amount of LDL in your body. If you are eating a lot of meat in your diet, try switching your entrees out for some fish, which can lower the amount of your LDL-boosting saturated fats intake and boost your omega-3 fatty acid levels, which can help reduce triglycerides in your body. Fruits can also do wonders for your cholesterol levels, and are typically loaded with pectin, a form of soluble fiber that works to decrease LDL build up in the body.
Naturade Total Soy can help you reduce cholesterol
Over 40 clinical studies on Soy Protein and cholesterol reduction led the Food & Drug Administration to declare that "25 grams of Soy Protein daily, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." Just one delicious 8 oz. shake of Naturade Total Soy supplies more than half of the suggested amount of Soy Protein daily. With just one serving per day, you receive 50 percent of your daily protein recommendations, and the soy protein could assist in decreasing your total and LDL cholesterol, as well as your risk of cardiovascular complications.