Heart Tip 7: Lower Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol gets a bad rap. There are actually two kinds of cholesterol and one of them, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), is produced in the liver and plays a vital role in the functioning of your body's cells. The easiest way to say it is that HDL makes your cells waterproof. This ensures that the biochemistry of the inside of the cell is different from the outside. HDL also serves as a guard against cancer and aging and is necessary for proper neurological functioning.
So why would you want to lower your cholesterol? Because the second kind, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), get smaller and smaller until they're tiny enough to enter the walls of your blood vessels and attach themselves like a bad houseguest. Once enough of the LDL sticks around, it's called plaque. Over time, the plaque can rupture and block the vessels altogether. Then it's heart attack time.
You can combat this in a couple of ways. There's the age-old advice to quit smoking, get on a healthy diet and exercise. Then there's a drug treatment called statins that can help lower your LDL levels. The American Heart Association recommends that fat not exceed 25 to 30 percent of your daily intake and your cholesterol from food not be more than 300 milligrams. You should also get 25 to 30 grams of fiber into your diet each day and see tip No. 1 for your exercise routine. Statins are the other option. If your doctor finds that your LDL levels are more than 130 grams per deciliter, he may decide to put you on one of the six brands of statin drugs on the market. Whether it's through diet and exercise, statins or both, lowering your cholesterol is a great way to help you avoid the dangers of a heart attack.