Cholesterol Basics

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in the body and is carried in the bloodstream.

man zip lining
One of the inherit issues that people with a bleeding disorder face is the possibility of a bleed with physical activity.  We now know that physical activity actually helps to strengthen muscles and joints and helps to reduce the frequency, number and/or severity of bleeds.  Lack of exercise can not only contribute to joint problems, but a number of other health issues including heart disease and high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in the body and is carried in the bloodstream.  It is produced naturally by the body and is also found in certain foods.  Cholesterol is needed by the body for cell function, aiding in the digestive process and in the production of Vitamin D and hormones.  While some amount of cholesterol in our diets is ok.  Too much can be very unhealthy.
There are 2 different types of cholesterol.  Low density lipoproteins or LDL and High density lipoproteins or HDL:
Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are the “bad” type of cholesterol.   Too much LDL circulating in the blood can cause fatty deposits to form in the arteries. This can cause blockages in these vessels which can lead to a heart attacks or strokes.  LDL is found in products that come from animals, such as meat, poultry, and dairy.  Look for the words saturated fat and trans fats on food labels.  Try to reduce or avoid these types of fat from your diet. Also check for the amount of cholesterol listed on the food label.  Choose foods with little or no cholesterol in them.
High density lipoproteins (HDL) are the “healthy” type of cholesterol.  HDL actually pick up the extra circulating “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and carries it to the liver where it is broken down and excreted from the body or recycled if needed.
A healthy diet should include good sources of HDL including: cold-water fish, nuts, olive oil, avocados and legumes (kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, etc.)  Look for the words monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats on food labels.  These are “healthy” fats that actually lower cholesterol.  Try replacing the bad fats in your diet whenever possible.  Healthy diets should be moderate in all types of fat however.       avocado
What can you do to maintain a healthy balance of cholesterol in your body?
1. Eat a healthy diet.  Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean
protein and low-fat dairy are all essential for a healthy diet.
2. Exercise-helps to maintain a healthy weight and
keeps your muscles and joints strong and healthy.  Also helps reduce cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of many diseases including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
3. Don’t smoke-smoking increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
4. See your doctor or your HTC to have your cholesterol levels checked.  There are usually no symptoms associated with high cholesterol.  Knowing what your levels are can give you an indication of your risks.  There are medications that your doctor can prescribe to help lower cholesterol levels.
Take the first steps and find out how your cholesterol levels are.  Then take the next step and get physically active.  Even if your cholesterol level is normal, exercise will help to keep it that way and will help to keep you feeling fit, healthy and strong.