In part five of this series, I address what you can do to raise levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, while taking lowering blood pressure back down to safe levels.
HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol. Like other fats in your body, it is carried in the blood by lipoproteins. The higher the levels of HDL cholesterol, the lower the levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol will be. HDL cholesterol has antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory protective effects in your heart and blood vessels. What blood level puts you at risk of heart diseases? Your doctor could order a fasting blood sample and determine if your HDL cholesterol level is within the desirable range.
Both men and women should aim to have their HDL counts greater than 60 mg/dL. Under 40 for men or under 50 for women increases the risk of heart disease.
Now, diet plans could raise the HDL cholesterol. They include “Weight Watchers,” “Atkins,” and the Mediterranean diet. Shedding six pounds would raise the HDL cholesterol by one mg/dL. Other dietary options include unsaturated fats (olive, peanut, and canola oils), eating more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (nuts and fish), and drinking alcohol only in moderation.
Now, let’s look at “prehypertension,” a precursor to high blood pressure, which means having systolic pressure (the upper number) between 120 and 139 mmHg or diastolic pressure (the lower number) between 80 and 89 mmHg. According to the American Heart Association, one in three adults under the age of 64 years and one in two over the age of 65 years will develop high blood pressure (140 over 90) within four years after being diagnosed with prehypertension.
Risk factors for prehypertension include smoking, excess alcohol intake, sedentary lifestyle, and family history of high blood pressure, being male, a diet too high in sodium or low in potassium, being overweight or obese, and aging. After you know you have prehypertension, it is vital to lower your systolic blood pressure to below 120 mmHg and your diastolic to be low 80 mmHg. You can lower your blood pressure by making changes in your lifestyle and through the use of natural medicines. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
— Drop your body weight up to 10%, which means blood pressure drops 5-20 mmHg.
— Moderate exercise, such as 30 minutes a day walking, which drops it 4-9 mmHg.
— Reduce sodium intake to less than two grams a day, which drops blood pressure to 2-8 mmHg.
— Reduce alcohol to only moderate intake, which drops it to 2-4 mmHg.
— Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, which drops it 8-14 mmHg.