What’s up with cholesterol?

Posted March 29th, 2010 in Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

So, here’s my second blog post for WoW Power Walking.Some of you may have decided to take up walking because your physician discovered your blood has elevated cholesterol levels and you were told that exercise is important to improve those levels.Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is made by the liver and transported through the bloodstream via lipoproteins to wherever it is needed. Cholesterol forms part of every cell in the body and serves many vital functions including proper brain and nerve function.Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it can clog blood vessels. It builds up wherever cholesterol has been sent to repair damage to blood vessels. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered the “good” cholesterol as it helps smooth out and clear away the build up of LDL and reduces your risk for heart disease.If you have elevated total blood cholesterol and LDL levels in your blood, it means that there is either too much cholesterol for the HDL to clean up properly or there is not enough HDL to do the job properly. Either way the extra cholesterol can form plaque that sticks to artery walls and may eventually cause heart disease.Health care professionals consider it important to keep cholesterol levels within the safe range (total blood cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dl; LDL cholesterol levels below 130 mg/dl; HDL cholesterol levels above 35 mg/dl) to prevent heart attack or stroke.In addition to exercise, it is considered important to consider what your diet can do to help.  Include fruits and vegetables, replace high fat animal protein with lower fat protein in fish and chicken, and replacing saturated fats with mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some specific foods include almonds, apples, bananas, carrots, cold water fish such as halibut, salmon, haddock, pollock, dried beans, garlic, grapefruit, oats, olive oil, salmon, strawberries, and walnuts.While regular exercise is critical for balancing cholesterol levels – reducing total blood cholesterol while lowering the LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol – lack of sunlight has been shown to adversely affect cholesterol levels. Combining your exercise with some outdoor time is what we’ve always encouraged at WoW and, as it turns out, for good reason.Get outside! Today.