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You take a trip to the doctor for a routine blood test. It only takes a few minutes, and then you’re on your way.
You feel fine, so you don’t anticipate any concerns about your health.
But you’re still curious to find out if you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for chronic disease.
A few days later, your doctor calls you about the results.
“You have high cholesterol,” your doctor says. “You’ll need to start taking medication to control your cholesterol.”
One minute you’re feeling fine, the next minute you want to know everything you can about high cholesterol and how to control it with:
- Lifestyle changes
- And a supplement called “chlorella”
Facts about high cholesterol
About 1 out of 3 adults in the United States has high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you live in Australia, your risk for high cholesterol is about the same.
And that’s a problem. High cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits that block arteries and increase the risk for heart disease, a heart attack, or stroke.
Elevated levels of total cholesterol can raise your risk for these health, problems too. The good news, raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol can help.
But there’s not way of knowing if you have high cholesterol without a blood test. There are no symptoms. It’s why scheduling an annual blood test is a good practice to protect your health.
Healthy cholesterol levels
Wondering what healthy cholesterol levels look like? Here’s what medical professionals consider ideal for Total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol:
Total cholesterol = Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol = Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL (“good”) cholesterol = 60 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides = Less than 150 mg/dL
What causes high cholesterol?
High cholesterol levels could be hereditary, but for most people diet and lifestyle are the biggest factors linked to high cholesterol. The most common causes of high cholesterol include:
- Foods high in saturated fat. Eating a lot of red meat, dairy products, processed meats, and butter, for example, can lead to high cholesterol.
- Lack of exercise. People who don’t get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day typically have higher levels of LDL cholesterol, and lower levels of HDL cholesterol.
- Excess body weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for high cholesterol.
- High blood sugar levels. Poor eating habits and lack of exercise can raise your risk for diabetes. If you develop insulin resistance, it’s harder for the body to control blood sugar levels.This can lead to a hardening of the arteries, making it easier for cholesterol deposits to build up and block artery walls.
- Smoking. If you smoke, the toxins in tobacco can damage blood vessels, making it easier for cholesterol deposits to block blood flow. Smoking also lowers HDL cholesterol levels.
4 ways to control cholesterol levels
If a blood test shows that you have high cholesterol levels, you need to take action to protect your health. Here are four ways to control cholesterol:
1. Take medication
Statin drugs are the most common prescription medications used to control cholesterol.These drugs work by preventing the liver from developing cholesterol and releasing it into the bloodstream.
2. Eat a plant-based diet
There’s a reason people who follow the Mediterranean Diet have a significantly lower risk for heart disease than people who don’t. Much of their eating habits are based on following a plant-based diet. Foods that help control cholesterol include oats, legumes, garlic, onions, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
3. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day
Research shows that regular exercise can help increase HDL “good” cholesterol levels, and help control LDL “bad” cholesterol. Research shows that both cardio workouts and strength training can have a positive effect on cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
4. Take chlorella supplements
Medication and lifestyle changes are most commonly prescribed to help control cholesterol. But a growing body of research suggests that taking the supplement, “chlorella” can help too.
In a four-week study, researchers found that people with elevated cholesterol levels who took a chlorella supplement after each meal for four weeks, were able to lower cholesterol levels without any adverse side effects.
Looking for a way to improve your health and control cholesterol levels? Check out all the health benefits of chlorella.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Cholesterol fact sheet. From: https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_cholesterol.htm.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Biomedical results for chronic disease, 2011-12. From: www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/4812278BC4B8FE1ECA257BBB001217A4?opendocument.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Vital signs: prevalence, treatment, and control of high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6004a5.htm?s_cid=mm6004a5_w.
- Mayo Clinic. (2017). High cholesterol. From: www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/dxc-20181874.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017). Controlling cholesterol with statins. From: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm293330.htm.
- Harvard Health Publications. (2015). 11 foods that lower cholesterol. From: www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol.
- Mann, S. (2014). Differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and combined exercise modalities on cholesterol and the lipid profile: Review, synthesis and recommendations. Journal of Sports Medicine. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3906547/
- Ryu, N.H., et al. (2014). Impact of daily Chlorella consumption on serum lipid and carotenoid profiles in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition Journal. From: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-57.