So how important is it and what do you actually need to do when you want to know how to lower your cholesterol? You may have been recently told by your doctor that your cholesterol is too high or you may have just received general advice that it would be a wise thing to maintain lower cholesterol levels.
First of all you need to understand what cholesterol actually is: It is a form of fat that appears like wax and is aquired from both certain types of foods like dairy, meats and eggs and internally from production in the liver. A degree of cholesterol is indeed required for the bodies natural function, being an important ingredient in the production of vitamins, hormones and digestive acids which help disperse fat.
The liver usually only makes around seventy percent of our cholesterol requirement and therefore we do actually need to take in some more cholesterol from food. The problem arises when we take in too much cholesterol by over-eating cholesterol-rich foods, and the excess starts blocking arteries and badly affecting the health of our hearts.
Furthermore, there is a second type of cholesterol known as HDL, which is required in order to remove the bad type of cholesterol LDL, from our blood. In the case of the good HDL cholesterol, there is a minimum level which we require in our bodies in order to maintain a low risk of heart disease and no particular upper limit.
The two fundamental ways to control cholesterol of both types is either naturally, through careful diet and exercise, or by getting prescribed drugs for cholesterol reduction. However, before making decisions on which route to take you should first check to see if heart disease or high cholesterol runs in your family, as it is certainly hereditary, and this information, together with your doctors advice should determine which way would be best for you to go.
The Drug Route – If you already have a high LDL cholesterol level and after making an assessment of the other factors involved your doctor may suggest a course of medication. Should you have a form of heart disease or diabetes or a number of other high risk factors are in play, you may have no choice but to take the medication. However, if it is a question of just high LDL level, then if your doctor is happy, you could first try a few fairly simple natural changes to your diet and exercise. Also stopping smoking can have a direct affect.
The Natural Route Change to a controlled low cholesterol diet, the recommended intake being about 300mg per day, reducing to 200mg if you already have a form of heart disease. First of all avoid foods that have high levels of saturated fats or contain high levels of dietary cholesterol. This on its own can have a profound affect on levels. If you are generally quite healthy, still do as a minimum, keep the saturated fat in your diet to a very low level.
Again, smoking lowers your levels of good HDL though they will come back if you stop.
Exercise has wide benefits, it can increase your HDL production, and just light exercise carried out regularly is very helpful with the control of weight, blood pressure and even diabetes. -These can all have a bearing on your risk of some form of heart disease.
As with all matters that are health related, if you harbour any concerns about your cholesterol levels you should see your doctor for advice, as both your LDL and HDL cholesterol can be checked simply with a blood test, and he can look at all the factors concerning your way of life and give advice on your best course of action to lower your cholesterol levels.