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September is National Cholesterol Education Month

High cholesterol, which causes heart attacks and strokes, is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

High cholesterol comes from what you eat, like food that are high in trans-fat and saturated fats. An example of these foods are full-fat dairy products, poultry, meat and tropical oils like coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil. Our body makes all the cholesterol that is needed through the liver. Trans-fat and saturated fats causes the liver to make more cholesterol than it normally would. The more excess cholesterol that is created, the more it will build up in the walls of the arteries eventually making the arteries become narrower and blood flow to the heart slows down or becomes blocked.

Other factors that can affect cholesterol levels are: being inactive (regular physical activity may lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL), having relatives with high cholesterol, smoking, being older because our cholesterol levels naturally rise as we age, smoking and stress (long term stress raises a person’s blood cholesterol levels generally because when people are stressed they are more likely to eat fatty foods).

Some ways to lower your stress level, which helps with lowering your cholesterol levels are to reduce your stress triggers (which could be practicing time management, setting priorities and pacing yourself). You can also practice relaxation techniques everyday which can vary from deep breathing, mindful mediation, incorporating art and music. Visualization can help you take a journey to a calming, peaceful place or situation. This incorporates using your touch, smell, sound and sight senses.

It is important to remember stress relief strategies takes some experimenting and practice but it is a great way to help manage your cholesterol and overall well-being.