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  • Writer's pictureMCMC

The Difference Between ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by our body- specifically, 75% of your cholesterol is produced by your liver and the rest comes from the foods you consume. Cholesterol is a natural waxy substance that travels throughout your bloodstream and your body, as well as in your cells. Having cholesterol is necessary for both your brain and your body to function, but it’s important to understand the difference between ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol.

‘Bad’ cholesterol is referred to as high-density lipoprotein (LDL). When a person has too much LDL in their bodies, it can build up in their arteries as fatty deposits, which can cause significant health issues like heart problems.

‘Good’ cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This cholesterol is healthy because it grabs onto the excess cholesterol from your arteries and eliminates it, keeping it from impacting your health. It’s best for individuals to keep their LDL levels low and their HDL levels high to remain healthy.

One way to improve cholesterol levels is through eating the right foods. If you’re aiming to lower your cholesterol, try cutting out processed foods with trans and saturated fats. To lower LDL levels specifically, try earing fruits and vegetables like leafy greens, yellow, orange, or red tomatoes, strawberries, plums, and berries. The more colorful the better!

Oatmeal, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, apples, and pears have high fiber contents to help keep your body from absorbing extra cholesterol into your blood.

Omega-3 enriched fish like tuna, salmon, trout, herring, and mackerel also help to keep cholesterol levels in-check.

Seeds, nuts, avocados, soybeans, and whey protein are also good options for helping lower cholesterol.

Eating the right foods isn’t the only way to keep your cholesterol in-check: it’s also important to do the right activities. Exercise helps raise your HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol levels. Try doing moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 times per week to change your cholesterol levels. Even a brisk walk can help!

Other lifestyle changes that are important for those monitoring their cholesterol are stopping smoking, cutting down on sugary alcoholic drinks, and cutting out processed food items from their diet. It’s recommended that those 18+ with average high cholesterol risk get their cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years, with those having high blood pressure getting checked more frequently. Talk with your primary care provider, or have your cholesterol checked with the Direct Access Labs at Murray County Medical Center. Walk-ins are welcome for Direct Access Labs. Call (507) 836-6111 for appointments.

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