Easy Steps for Healthy Cholesterol During COVID-19
There’s a lot we still don’t know about COVID-19, but one thing is clear: being in good health can keep your body in fighting shape.
Even if you haven’t contracted the novel coronavirus, there’s a good chance your physical health has taken a blow. We’re all getting less activity these days since many offices and gyms remain closed. Comfort meals are becoming more commonplace as we cope with the stress of the pandemic.
It’s probably the farthest thing from your mind right now, but these lifestyle changes can spell changes for your cholesterol. Thankfully, it’s not hard to turn the tide.
Good Cholesterol vs. Bad Cholesterol
Before we dive into ways to keep your cholesterol in check, it’s handy to understand what it is. In short, cholesterol is a fat-like substance that your body uses to make new cells. Your liver actually makes all the cholesterol your body needs to function.
There are two main types of cholesterol you should know:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) — HDL is “good” cholesterol because it does an important job for your body. It goes around your bloodstream and collects cholesterol, then takes it to your liver to get removed from your body.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — This is the “bad” cholesterol. Instead of getting filtered out by your liver, LDL sticks around and causes plaque buildup. Having high LDL puts you at risk for heart disease.
The key to healthy cholesterol is simple: raise your “good” cholesterol and lower the “bad” one. Here’s an easy way to do that during the pandemic.
Get Moving to Raise Your "Good" Cholesterol
And you don’t have to turn your home into a gym to see the benefits.
Whether you join a virtual fitness class or put together your own routine, just 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise a day is enough to make a difference with your cholesterol. Here are some ideas for indoor activities to get your heart rate up and how to stay safe if you exercise outdoors.
If you can spare the expense, a smartwatch or fitness tracker can be a good accountability partner. They can give you a reminder when you’ve been sitting for a long time and could benefit from a walk around the neighborhood. It’s also easier to track your movement trends and be honest with yourself about your activity level.
Eat Smart to Lower Your "Bad" Cholesterol
No matter what your diet looks like, it’s okay to treat yourself every now and again. Eating a burger every once in a while isn’t likely to do any major harm. Just be aware of the kind of fats those foods carry and how they affect your cholesterol.
Animal-based foods like eggs, red meat and cheeses have fairly high levels of saturated fats in them. Saturated fats contain both “good” HDL and “bad” LDL cholesterol, but they tip your overall cholesterol in an unhealthy direction.
Unsaturated fats come from fatty fish like salmon and from nuts, seeds and vegetable-based oils. Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats actually reduce the amount of LDL in your body. Simply put, they lower your “bad” cholesterol.
Remember: flavorful doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Take some time this week to learn how your favorite comfort meal is made. Making a cholesterol-friendly substitution might be easier than you think!
You don’t have to worry about your cholesterol during the pandemic. All it takes is a couple simple adjustments to your activity and diet to keep yourself in a healthy range. Learn more about your heart health by taking our quick health risk assessment.