The month of September is all about cholesterol awareness. Cholesterol is a substance that can have a major impact on your health, and keeping an eye on your levels is a key part of healthy senior living. Below, you'll find information that explains what cholesterol is, how it can affect your health and what you can do to keep it under control.
What is cholesterol?
Many people associate cholesterol with bad health, but the truth is, your body needs cholesterol to survive. According to the American Heart Association, cholesterol
, which is found in your blood, comes in two varieties. You may have heard them referred to as "good" and "bad" cholesterol, but their clinical terms are HDL and LDL cholesterol. Having too much of the bad stuff or not enough of the good stuff can put you at risk for a number of serious health issues, including heart attack, stroke or heart disease. Cholesterol makes its way into the bloodstream through two sources. The majority is created by your liver and other cells in the body, while around a quarter of the cholesterol in your blood comes from the foods you eat.
Controlling your cholesterol
It's not difficult to keep your cholesterol levels under control, as long as you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle. Exercising frequently can help you produce more of the good cholesterol.
Scheduling regular visits to your doctor is also an important way to manage your cholesterol levels. Your physician will run tests to assess the levels of cholesterol in your body during a routine visit, and he or she will be able to tell you if you need to make any lifestyle changes to improve your health.
Certain foods can also benefit your cholesterol levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, oatmeal and oat bran, along with other foods
high in fiber, can reduce the levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood. It's also a good idea to boost your intake of fish, as omega-3 fatty acids can help with cholesterol issues. The fish to look for when grocery shopping include mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, Albacore tuna, salmon and halibut, as these have the highest levels of omega-3s.
Finally, if you enjoy nuts, you're in luck. Walnuts and almonds, along with many other types of nuts, are great for your vascular health.