Nationally, workplace wellness programs highlight cholesterol each September. This month, make it a priority to share information about cholesterol with your employees. Even if your workforce appears mostly healthy on the exterior, high cholesterol levels can slowly be clogging arteries and leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cholesterol is like a comedy/tragedy mask. One side represents the body’s need for the waxy substance, its presence indicating a favorable buildup of vitamins, minerals and cells. This side recognizes that the body needs cholesterol. At the same time, the other side grimaces. Too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke. How does one find balance?

Here’s some advice:

  • Make sure your employees understand the difference between HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. High LDL levels could indicate that a buildup is occurring in the arteries. Like a straw that’s clogged, those arteries could have difficulty delivering blood where it needs to go. Atherosclerosis is the term used for less-than-flexible arteries (You may also know it as ‘narrowed arteries’).
  • HDL, or high density lipoprotein, actually carries excess cholesterol to the liver, where it’s filtered and then leaves the body. Maintain healthy levels of HDL, and you’ll have less risk of cardiovascular disease. Ways to increase HDL include eating foods like olive oil, oatmeal and more. A list can be found here.
  • As with everything in life, too much of anything is a bad thing. That holds true for HDL cholesterol as well as LDL. That’s why it’s so important to have cholesterol levels checked.
  • Opt for the needle; that is, get a blood test. Phlebotomists will tell you that every person’s blood tells a story. A preventative visit is a great first step (and is covered by most insurance plans), but while a patient can embellish their dietary and exercise habits, the blood tells no lies.
  • According to Medical News Today, eating certain foods can help foster high levels of good cholesterol. The Mediterranean diet, with its olive oil and other ‘healthy’ fats, can boost that HDL. Low carb diets and regular exercise have proven benefits too. Read the whole list that recommends a no-smoking life and more.
  • Share educational resources with your workforce to help them make good decisions. While there is a genetic condition that can lead to an excess of bad cholesterol, most levels can be affected by diet and exercise. Smokers and those with high blood pressure are at extra risk as well.
  • Here’s a creative idea: Host a delicious Cholesterol-Happy Employee Breakfast. Include fatty fish such as salmon on the menu (bagels and lox, anyone)?

It’s simple to find information to disseminate in your workplace. The CDC provides educational videos, articles and more. Check out their Cholesterol Communications Kit here. Challenge your employees to take the Cholesterol Quiz to see how much they really know. Share resources – and don’t forget to have your own cholesterol levels checked!

For help setting up a biometric screening health fair that includes a cholesterol screen, contact Trish Blocker at tblocker@w3ins.com or 727-522-7777 x173