Cholesterol is essential for normal functioning of the body. Cholesterol is a fatty substance, called a lipid, that is produced by the liver and found in some foods.
Proteins in your blood carry cholesterol and when combined are called lipoproteins.
High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are known as "good cholesterol" and low-density lipoprotein (LDLs) are called "bad cholesterol." HDLs carry cholesterol away from cells to be broken down by the liver, while LDLs carry cholesterol to the cells for use.
If there is more cholesterol than the cells can use, it begins to build up on the artery walls and may cause disease of the arteries.
Almost 1 in 3 adults in the United States have high cholesterol, which puts a person at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, transient ischemic attack, and peripheral arterial disease.
You can lower your blood cholesterol levels by cutting down on foods that are high in saturated fat and swapping them with foods that contain unsaturated fat.
Avoiding foods containing trans fats, reducing the total amount of fat you consume, eating high-fiber foods, and getting active can also help lower cholesterol. In some cases, your healthcare provider may also recommend medication.
Smartphone apps can also help you to achieve your goal of lowering your cholesterol through dietary, nutritional, and fitness programs. Here are Medical News Today's top 10 apps for individuals with high cholesterol.
Cholesterol Food Reference
Cholesterol Food Reference is the perfect companion to help you find out the cholesterol value of everyday foods, including more than 200 foods found at the grocery store and more than 100 fast foods.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommended restricting consumption of dietary cholesterol to under 300 milligrams each day. Although this figure does not appear in the 2015–2020 edition, these guidelines do recommend that we "eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible" while still maintaining a healthful, balanced diet.
Foods high in dietary cholesterol tend to also be higher in saturated fats. Evidence indicates that eating patterns that are lower in dietary cholesterol intake are linked with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
MyFitnessPal can help you to adopt more healthful eating habits and stay active to lower your cholesterol. Track all nutrients in your diet, such as cholesterol, fat, fiber, calories, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins, just to name a few.
MyFitnessPal includes a database of more than 6 million foods and recognizes more than 4 million barcodes to track what you're eating. You can import nutritional information from all of your favorite recipes as well as log menu items from the restaurants that you frequently visit.
Set personalized goals and the app can help you to reach them. The MyFitnessPal app is just like having your own pocket-sized nutritional coach. Track your steps, log your cardio and strength exercises, or choose from the 350+ workouts included in the app.
MyNetDiary can track anything related to your health — from planning meals and keeping tabs on nutrients, to logging your exercise regime, test results, and medications.
MyNetDiary is also an effective tool for tackling weight issues. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have higher levels of LDL cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure — all of which are risk factors for heart disease. MyNetDiary could help you to reduce your risk factors and therefore your chances of heart disease.
And, tracking your food intake is quick and easy; the app's barcode scanner helps to speed up data entry. MyNetDiary also includes more than 500 exercises and activities and syncs with scales and fitness trackers from Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Garmin, and Withings.
Foodvisor is a nutritional coach that aims to help you eat smarter and more healthfully. Simply take a photo of your meal, and Foodvisor's food recognition software will analyze it and send a nutrient report within seconds.
Foodvisor's nutrient analysis reports a serving size estimate and details on calories, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, and cholesterols. The barcodes can also be scanned to log food items from a database of thousands of products.
Chat with the Foodvisor nutritionists to receive health tips and goal-orientated recommendations. Progress is tracked through real-time charts and graphs so that you can identify a regimen that works for you.
Fooducate teaches you to eat better for your health. The app analyzes the nutritional panels and ingredients found on packaging to help you discover hidden nasties — such as trans fats, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives — in food products.
Fooducate has a database of more than 250,000 product barcodes and will generate an easy-to-understand nutritional grade between A and D for each food. The app will even provide suggestions for more healthful options based on the product that you have scanned.
With Fooducate, you can track your meals, food intake, calories, macros such as proteins, fats, and carbs, exercise, sleep, hunger levels, and mood. Nutrition professionals also provide health, weight loss, and diet tips.
Smart Blood Pressure
When you have high cholesterol, it's vital to check your blood pressure regularly. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are risk factors for heart disease, and when a person has more than one risk factor, they work together to increase heart disease risk further.
Smart Blood Pressure lets you track your blood pressure, locate unique patterns in your blood pressure levels, and learn how to regain control of your blood pressure.
The app also logs dietary cholesterol, tracks any medication you are taking, and compiles charts that compare blood pressure with other variables such as cholesterol, pulse, weight, and calories.
Vida is a personal health coach that can help you to build healthful eating habits, increase your physical activity, and reach health goals such as lowering your cholesterol. One user of the app reported that, after using it, they were able to cease using cholesterol medication.
Choose a health expert to suit you and together, through both online messaging and video consultations, you will devise a plan to achieve your health goal.
Each of Vida's structured programs comes with engaging and inspiring lessons that aim to create lasting results. Set your goal and follow your progress through motivational visual charts.
Do you find it a challenge to limit saturated and trans fats when you eat out? HowUdish is an app designed to help you find dishes at nearby restaurants that suit your specific diet goals.
To avoid the temptation of eating the wrong foods, let HowUdish know what diet you are on, and it will find location-based menu options that are suitable for you.
Swipe and save dishes that appeal to you at nearby restaurants. Plan ahead and select meals from nearby dishes to help keep your eating patterns on track. View ingredients, saturated fats and trans fats, and other detailed nutritional information.
Nutrients is a nutritional database at your fingertips. Nutrients can help you to lower your cholesterol by letting you know how much saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol there are in the foods that you eat.
Search through their list of nearly 200,000 foods to discover nutrition facts complete with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, sugars, sterols, and other compounds.
Create a recipe on the app to see the nutrients included in your meal. Add each ingredient and serving size and Nutrients will provide you with a comprehensive list of nutritional facts about your recipe.
ShopWell is the must-have app to take along to the grocery store with you. ShopWell gives insight into the food products you buy and offers suggestions for more healthful options that may be a better fit for your lifestyle.
ShopWell is simple to use. Just scan an item and all the information associated with the product will appear on screen so that you can make an informed choice about what you purchase.
The app offers alerts and support for various food goals, including lowering your cholesterol, and provides a fast and fun way to discover new foods in real-time.