3 Ways to Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels

by Melissa Chichester

Did you know that every cell in your body contains cholesterol?

It’s a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs to make Vitamin D, hormones, and other substances. It is also needed to build healthy cells. However, when certain types of cholesterol get too high, it can impact your health. That includes cardiovascular health. 

Supporting healthy cholesterol levels doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are three key steps you can take to feel confident about cholesterol.

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Know your numbers

The most important way to support your cholesterol is to know your personal numbers and understand what they mean. 

This includes knowing:

  • Total cholesterol: This is an estimate of all of the cholesterol in the blood.
  • Triglycerides: This is a measure of fat in the blood.
  • LDL: This is the amount of bad cholesterol in the body that leads to clogged arteries.
  • HDL: This is the good cholesterol that carries bad cholesterol out of the body. 

You can receive all of these numbers from your doctor by getting a simple blood test. Monitoring these numbers every year can help you keep track of if these numbers get too high or if your HDL cholesterol is too low.

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>>How to Read Cholesterol and Heart Health Test Results

Know your fats 

Fats play a role in cholesterol levels. Knowing what kind of fats to eat can help you nutritionally support your cholesterol levels. 

Omega-3s are some of the most important fatty acids you need for cellular health.* 

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in many plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes flaxseeds and chia seeds.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are omega-3s found in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines. Getting enough EPA and DHA omega-3s from fish oil helps maintain the health of your cardiovascular system and supports healthy circulation.*

Omega-3s are heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats that help maintain cholesterol levels already within a normal range.* 

Other fats that have an impact on cholesterol levels include: 

  • Monounsaturated fats are one of the best healthy fats in your diet. Sources of these fats include avocados, almonds, pecans, other nuts, and olive oil. 
  • Saturated fats are okay to eat in moderation. Animal products and coconut oil contain saturated fats. 

By knowing what fats support your cholesterol levels, you can make better nutritional choices and eat more foods that contain healthy fats. 

>>5 Plant-Based Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Increase your physical activity 

Physical activity is another important way to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. A sedentary lifestyle lowers HDL cholesterol, which is your good cholesterol.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. That’s 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week. 

Walking is a great way to get started with physical activity. And if you can’t do 30 minutes per day, start small and work your way up. Talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activity is best for you.

If you’re overwhelmed about supporting cholesterol levels, making small changes in your diet and lifestyle is a great place to start. The good news is that you can start supporting healthy cholesterols and maintaining them at any time with the help of your doctor.