Stop Doing This Or You'll Get High Cholesterol, Says CDC
High levels of blood cholesterol significantly increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Studies have found that people with high levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol have a 30 to 40 percent greater chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. Here's what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should do to avoid high cholesterol. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Eating An Unhealthy Diet
"Your body makes all of the cholesterol it needs, so you do not need to obtain cholesterol through foods," the CDC says. Eating food that's high in saturated fat and trans fats may contribute to a high cholesterol level. The agency's recommendations for healthy eating: limit foods high in saturated fat (like cheese and fatty meats); choose foods that are low in saturated fat, sodium, trans fats and added sugars; eat foods that are high in fiber (like oatmeal, beans and whole grains) and healthy unsaturated fats (like avocados and nuts).
Being Overweight or Obese
Being overweight (having a BMI over 25) or obese (a BMI over 30) increases the amount of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with heart disease. "Excess body fat affects how your body uses cholesterol and slows down your body's ability to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood," the CDC says. "The combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke."
Being physically active can keep your weight in a healthy range and lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. Studies have found that exercise lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. Experts including the American Heart Assocation recommend getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.
Smoking elevates LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, while lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol. The toxins in tobacco also damage the walls of blood vessels, which contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and "greatly increases your risk of heart disease," says the CDC. It's estimated that smoking causes one out of every four deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Overindulging isn't just bad for your liver. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise your bad cholesterol and trigylcerides numbers. Both are associated with an increased risk of heart attack when elevated. If you imbibe, do it only in moderation: No more than two drinks a day for men, and no more than one drink a day for women.
Not Getting Your Cholesterol Tested
The CDC estimates that 12% of people over age 20 have high LDL cholesterol, and about 17% have low HDL cholesterol. You should get your cholesterol level checked at least every four to six years. Your doctor can determine your cholesterol levels with a simple blood test.
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.