mens-health2Maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol is a critical component to living a long and healthy life. For many men and women, this can be accomplished through eating healthy and exercising regularly. At Men’s Vitality Center in Tempe, we’ve helped hundreds of men effectively lower their cholesterol levels through customized health plans. While you may not love the thought of cutting back on mouthwatering cheeseburgers and steak fries, working towards a low level of cholesterol is worth the sacrifice not only for yourself, but for your family as well.

Cholesterol 101

As you may already know, cholesterol can cause major health problems when high levels exist in the bloodstream. Your body uses cholesterol for a variety of functions including the production of cell membranes, hormones and even to produce vitamin D. Since your body is a self-sufficient machine, a majority of your cholesterol (roughly 75%) is created with the help of your liver and other cells in your body. The other 25% of your body’s cholesterol comes from the food you consume.

When there is an overproduction of cholesterol in your body, it will start to build up around the walls of your arteries, forming dangerous plaque deposits that can narrow the arteries and force your heart to work even harder to pump blood sufficiently. The hardening of the arteries can lead to serious health issues, such as a heart attack or stroke.

How Doctors Measure Cholesterol

When you visit your doctor to measure your cholesterol levels, they’ll likely ask you to partake in a nine-to-twelve hour fast. During this fast, you will be unable to eat food, drink liquids or take any of your regular medications. After the fast, your physician will measure your cholesterol by drawing your blood and examining these three numbers:

  • Your total cholesterol levels
  • Your low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the “bad cholesterol levels.” This type of cholesterol can form plaque around your arteries and cause serious health risks.
  • Your high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the “good cholesterol levels.” This type of cholesterol helps to sweep your bloodstream of LDL. The higher your HDL levels, the better your chances are of avoiding heart disease.

According to recent studies, approximately 98.6 million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels that put them at risk for heart disease. If you’re concerned your cholesterol levels are too high, contact the Men’s Vitality Center in Tempe today to schedule an appointment with one of our certified physicians.

Heart Disease Risk Factors In Men

While there are a variety of risk factors that can lead to heart disease in men, it’s important to understand that there are two types of risk factors — those you can change and those you cannot. Fortunately, there are several risk factors you can work to eliminate on your own if you’re looking to lower your overall levels of cholesterol.

Risk Factors You Can Change

  • Smoking habits
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Physical activity and exercise
  • Diabetes

Risk Factors You Cannot Change

  • Men aged 45 or older
  • A family history of heart disease

fooodHow To Lower Your LDL

More often than not, many men experience high levels of cholesterol because they eat a large amount of fatty foods. It’s important to note, however, that health problems such as diabetes, obesity, genetic disorders and a dysfunctional thyroid gland can also lead to an increase in cholesterol levels. If you’re looking for ways to lower your high levels of cholesterol, lifestyle and diet changes are the first actions to take towards maintaining ideal standards. This can mainly involve adjusting your diet to cut out your intake of saturated fats. These are the fats that can maintain their solidity at room temperature, such as butter, lard and white fat found in most red meats.

In order to limit your cholesterol intake to promote heart health, the American heart Associations recommends the following guidelines:

  • Try to consume large amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other high-fiber foods.
  • Incorporate lean meats, poultry and fish into your diet for protein consumption.
  • Choose fat-free or 1% milk-fat dairy products. These will provide you with the calcium and vitamin D benefits you need, without the added saturated fat.
  • No more than 25 to 35% of your total daily calories should be derived from fat.
  • Up to 7% of your total daily calorie intake should be from saturated fat, with just 1% from trans fats.

It is also recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. If exercising every day is too difficult, start out slow with 30 minutes a couple times a week. Many men who suffer from high levels of cholesterol have found that regular exercise has a positive impact on their blood cholesterol levels by increasing their production of HDL cholesterol.

Reducing Unhealthy Fats

If you’re concerned about your heart health, a great way to improve your high levels of cholesterol is by replacing the unhealthy fats in your diet with good fats. The best way to cut out trans fats is to make small adjustments in your fat intake by avoiding trans fats that can be found in:

  • Packaged snack foods such as crackers, microwavable popcorn, chips and candy.
  • Pre-mixed products such as pancake mix, cake mix and chocolate milk.
  • Solid fats like margarine and butter.
  • Commercially-baked goods such as cookies, crackers, pizza dough and white bread.

Adding More Healthy Fats

Looking to add healthier fats to your diet? Unsaturated fats are essential for optimal heart health and overall physical and mental health. When you make a point to eat foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, you can significantly help improve your blood cholesterol levels and lower your overall risk of heart disease.

Eat more omega 3 fatty acids
Adding more omega 3 fatty acids to your diet is easy if you love fish and seafood. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout and even herring are a great natural source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Indulge in monounsaturated fats
If you’re a fan of nuts, this should be an easy addition to your diet. Monounsaturated fats can be found in a variety of nuts including almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts. Avocados are also a great source of this “good” fat.

Choose cooking oils wisely
Did you know that most industry manufactured oils, such as canola oil and many vegetable oils, burn most of their nutrients when heated? Make friends with olive oil and cold-pressed organic oils that retain all of their natural nutrients.

At the Men’s Vitality Center in Tempe, we’re proud to be a leading medical service provider for men of all ages. Whether you need help managing your high cholesterol or just want to make sure your levels are normal, our team of physicians can help. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!