If you are a baby boomer with high cholesterol, you are not alone. Your doctor may even want to put you on a statin, which is a cholesterol-lowering medication. Maybe you feel like you have no hope, but that’s just wrong. It’s all about going after the enemy, and in this case, cholesterol is the enemy!
Some of the top factors that impact cholesterol rates include drinking alcohol, the food you eat, living a sedentary lifestyle, abdominal obesity, smoking, steroid use, insulin resistance, and even genetics. About 25 percent of the people who have high cholesterol do because of genetic factors. So that means for the other 75 percent of you, there are lifestyle changes you can make in order to get it under control.
It’s important to understand your cholesterol numbers so you know where you are at. Here’s a breakdown of what the number ranges mean:
< 150 is normal
150-199 is borderline high
200-499 is high
> 500 is very high (you may die if you don’t get control of it immediately)
Your numbers may even be broken down more, into HDL and LDL figures. For HDL, think of “healthy” cholesterol, while the LDL is “lousy” cholesterol, or the one that is bad for your health. Here’s the breakdown on what your numbers mean for each of these:
HDL – the healthy cholesterol
Your goal is to have it be greater than 60, while less than 40 is considered undesirable.
LDL – the lousy cholesterol (ideally, keep it 100 and under)
100 is optimal
100-129 above optimal
130-159 borderline high
160-189 very high
VLDL is the very low density lipid protein, which being 30 and under is desirable.
Keep in mind that cholesterol itself is produced by your body. But there are foods that you eat that can raise your cholesterol level, along with the other factors. Animal based foods contain cholesterol, while plant based foods generally do not.
So if your cholesterol numbers are falling into the less than desirable area, there are options. You can do drug therapy, increase your activity, lose weight, change your eating habits (including reducing meat intake and increasing fiber intake to 25-30 grams per day), reduce alcohol consumption, and stop smoking. Stay tuned for the next blog post, where I will give you a sample exercise plan that will help with improving your cholesterol numbers.
Three Cholesterol Lowering Meal Options