Saturday, October 23, 2010


Cholesterol is a big player in the development of atherosclerotic plaques. There are two main types of cholesterol LDL and HDL. In general LDL is "bad cholesterol" with high levels of LDL being associated with development of plaques and contributing to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. LDL is responsible for depositing cholesterol to the tissues of our body. HDL, on the other hand, is responsible for picking up cholesterol from our tissues and delivering it to our liver. As you make steps towards improving your health you should aim to  keep LDL cholesterol levels low and to increase HDL cholesterol levels. 

Here is a link that explains the progression of atherosclerotic plaques for your viewing pleasure!

In general there are two main causes of high LDL cholesterol levels. 
1.) Family inheritance (familial hypercholesterolemia) 
2.) Lifestyle

The good news is, if caught early, lowering of cholesterol through drugs and/or lifestyle changes can slow or even reverse the progression of atherosclerotic changes. If lifestyle changes are not enough to keep your LDL levels low you will likely need to go on prescription medication. Having said that, being on prescription medication is not an excuse to maintain unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels it is best that you discuss this with your doctor. In this blog we will focus on lifestyle changes that can be made to aid you to healthy living. 

1.) Diet
  • Decrease your intake of saturated fats, found in fatty meats and high fat milk products, and increase your intake of unsaturated fats.
  • Eliminate trans fat consumption.
  • Limit your cholesterol intake.
  • Eat foods high in omega 3 fats.
  • Increase your fibre intake
    • Choose whole grains, these will increase your intake of soluble fibre.
    • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables; the more color the better. Dark orange, dark green, red etc. 
    • The only way our bodies eliminate cholesterol is through excreting it in our bowels. Increasing one's fibre intake will bind more cholesterol to aid in excretion. 

2.) Lifestyle
  • Loose weight
  • Exercise
    • Exercise has been shown to increase your level of HDL cholesterol. Try to work up to 30 minutes a day.
  • Quit Smoking
  • Drink in moderation. 
    • One drink per day for females and two drinks per day for males.

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