blue bulletin from bcidaho

How important is cholesterol?

What it is and how to keep it under control

how important is cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance in food and your body’s cells that plays a role in digestion and creates hormones and vitamin D. Your body needs certain amounts of cholesterol to work properly.

2 common types of cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
HDL is often called “good cholesterol” because it can help remove extra cholesterol that can cause plaque build-up in your arteries.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
LDL is often called “bad cholesterol” because it can cause plaque to build up in your arteries.

It’s important to watch your cholesterol levels – you want to have higher HDL cholesterol levels and lower LDL cholesterol levels. When there is too much cholesterol in your body, it builds up and makes it harder for blood to flow through your arteries. Over time, this can lead to health problems such as a stroke, blood clots or heart disease.

How can you improve your cholesterol?

Simple lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and exercising, can help improve your cholesterol levels.

Get active

When it comes to physical activity, try to find movement you enjoy. Exercise can help increase HDL cholesterol levels in your body. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Brisk walk or jog
  • Yoga
  • Strength or endurance training, such as weightlifting or long-distance running

Eat healthy

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends these guidelines for a heart-healthy diet:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with lean protein sources, low-fat dairy and fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Limit saturated fats and replace them with heart-healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, fish and nuts
  • Eat more plant-based meals using protein alternatives like tofu or beans
  • Limit processed foods and added sugar in foods and beverages
  • Don’t drink, but if you do, limit alcohol to one serving per day for women and two servings per day for men. One serving size is 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine or 1.5 ounces hard liquor

A cholesterol-friendly recipe: Berry and Barley Spinach Salad

berry spinach barley saladIngredients

2 cups of cooked and cooled barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice and zest of one lime
5 ounces (4 cups) of fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
1 diced avocado
2 cups of fresh or defrosted berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries)
Optional: Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, gently mix the barley, olive oil, lime juice and zest, spinach, red onion, fresh basil, salt and pepper.
  2. Gently fold in avocado and berries.
  3. Serve right away or chill and serve within 2 hours.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1/2 cup
Serves: 10

Per serving: 106 calories; 5 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 14 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 4 g sugars; 2 g protein; 243 mg potassium; 40 mg phosphorus

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Posted: June 28, 2021