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Good or Bad? High or Low? Do You Know Your Cholesterol?

Hillsborough County Healthy Living tips on how to get and keep your cholesterol in check

Did you know that nearly one in three American adults has high cholesterol? Did you also know that high cholesterol doesn't show any signs or symptoms but puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke? Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells but when your levels start getting high that's when the risks arise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), doctors recommend having your cholesterol levels checked every four to six years, and more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease.

But no matter what your age or background, there are simple steps and choices the Hillsborough County Healthy Living Program says you can take and make to manage your levels and help keep your cholesterol in check.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats and naturally high in fiber. These foods can help manage high levels of the "bad" cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increase the "good" cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL). According to the American Heart Association, a heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, while curbing sugary foods and beverages. Check out some locally-grown fruits and vegetables that you can incorporate into your heart-healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese raises bad cholesterol levels because excess body fat affects how your body uses cholesterol. It slows down your body's ability to remove the bad cholesterol from your blood. As bad cholesterol builds up in your blood, it blocks your arteries, which leads to the higher risks of heart disease and stroke. Did you know weight loss of as little as 10 percent can help improve your high cholesterol numbers?
  • Be active. Any kind of physical activity is important when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle but incredibly important when trying to keep your cholesterol under control. County Healthy Living experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week that will help increase your good cholesterol levels - that's 30 minutes of brisk walking, biking, or even dancing only five times a week. You can use one of the many Hillsborough County recreation centers and Healthy Living Centers to get your exercise on and bring your bad cholesterol levels down.
  • Quit smoking. Did you know that smoking lowers good cholesterol levels and let's bad cholesterol take over? By quitting smoking, you can protect your arteries by giving your good cholesterol the chance to increase and help remove the bad cholesterol from your blood.

Following these tips will not only help you keep your physical health in check, but will also add more to your overall wellbeing. Keeping yourself healthy by achieving a healthy cholesterol level can also lead to a better outlook on life and help you build a healthier mental health perspective.

The County's Healthy Living Program, which is accessible to every Hillsborough County resident, can help keep your cholesterol in check through the many benefits available to its members - free gym membership, one-on-one coaching, group exercise classes, access to wellness specialists, cooking classes, and much more. Take advantage of these benefits by calling (813) 272-5040.

Mindful Monday Mental Health Resources
Mindful Mondays promotes different ways you can make your mental health a priority but not take up too much of your busy schedule. From chair yoga virtual classes to tips on how to decompress after a long day, Hillsborough County's Mindful Mondays has various interactive resources for you to access no matter what day or time it is.