During the month of September, Faith Community Health System is participating in National Cholesterol Education Awareness Month. According to healthcare system officials, now is an opportune time to discuss the everyday dangers of high cholesterol.

High cholesterol is proven to be dangerous situation for anyone, putting them at high risk for complications like heart disease. Understanding cholesterol, what causes it, and how to control your levels is critical to maintaining a better state of health.

An estimated 94 million Americans are with high cholesterol according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individuals of Asian background are among the highest groups to have high cholesterol, affecting 13 percent of Asian men and 10.3 percent of Asian females.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body produces and helps your cardiovascular system function. There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). However, too much LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries, forming plaque and raising the risk of serious cardiovascular issues, including heart attack and stroke.

Prescription medications ordered by a healthcare provider can help individuals with especially high cholesterol, but changes in nutrition and lifestyle are critical for anyone who has or is at high risk of experiencing high cholesterol.

Prevention is key and managing cholesterol levels with just a few key changes in life and can make a big impact on your overall wellness. The changes may even be easier than you might think.

Start with Diet and Nutrition

When it comes to food and dieting, items that are high in saturated fats can contribute to high cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Foods such certain meats, cheese and other dairy products can contain high levels of fats that can affect cholesterol, so limiting the amount you ingest is critical to reducing bad cholesterol levels.

Foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, beans, and foods that contain healthy fats such as avocados and nuts can help manage cholesterol levels while contributing to an overall healthy and balanced diet.

Find Time to Exercise

Exercise has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and while helping to control your weight. According to the CDC, adults should aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Forms of exercise can include cycling, running, or brisk walking.

Stop Smoking

Studies have shown a link between smoking and cholesterol levels. Smoking can also damage your arteries, increasing the risk of plaque buildup. It can also contribute to high blood pressure.

Understanding your cholesterol levels is an important step in managing your risk of heart disease. It is recommended that adults ages 20 and older should have their cholesterol levels checked every five years.

For more information about cholesterol health and to schedule an appointment with a local medical provider, please call the Faith Community Rural Health Clinic in Jacksboro (940-567-5528), Bowie (940-872-1121), Alvord (940-427-2858), and Graham (940-282-2512).