What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat found in the blood of all animals (including humans) and is necessary for proper functioning of our cell membranes and production of hormones, vitamin D and bile. It is found in foods from animals including:
- Beef, chicken, fish
- Milk products
- Egg yolks
Cholesterol is not found in foods including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
There are 2 different types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): is the good type. High levels of HDL can decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): is the bad type: High levels of LDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
Why should I care?
The amount of cholesterol in your blood can affect your risk of heart disease. LDL Cholesterol can become attached to the inner walls of your arteries forming nasty plaque that restricts the flow of your blood. As time goes on, the buildup of plaque creates dangerous blockages that can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke. A heart attack is when blood flow in a major artery to the heart is blocked. A stroke is when blood cannot reach your brain.
Factors that contribute to cholesterol levels include:
- Family History
- Age and gender
- Body weight
- Level of exercise
- And the food you eat
What can I do?
Research shows that a healthy lifestyle can improve your blood cholesterol levels. Working out can improve the good HDL cholesterol in your system. A balanced diet can improve the good and bad cholesterol in your blood. Losing weight can help improve your overall cholesterol.
Foods that contain the good HDL cholesterol include:
- Salmon, trout
- Nuts and seeds including walnuts and flax seed
- Bran and whole grain oats found in health cereal choices
Foods to avoid:
- Deep fried foods
- Packaged foods
- Foods with a lot of butter
It’s important to remember balance when making positive changes in your food choices. Try choosing lower-fat milk products, leaner meat, add plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and stay away from foods that are deep fried and have lots of butter. Exercise is also critical to having a healthy heart and keeping your blood flowing.
How do I know if I’m at risk?
There are simple tests to determine your blood cholesterol levels (both HDL and LDL) in your blood. Speak to your family doctor about getting checked out.
Are you interested in having a workplace men’s health screening done?
For more information contact the Men’s Health Coordinator