A beginner’s guide on lowering Cholesterol

How to lower cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that is carried in the blood but too much of it is a risk factor for heart disease. Managing your cholesterol by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce your cholesterol levels. The catch is: even if the changes don’t show up directly in the cholesterol numbers, they can be lowering your risk for heart disease. So if you still haven’t made the change to a heart-healthy lifestyle, Check out this guide to get started.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods and it makes all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called “plaque.” As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing blocks blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

    Check out tips from our health experts.

    Follow the golden rule: Exercise

    exercise

    If your cholesterol numbers aren’t where they ought to be, working out should be a key part of your get-healthy strategy. The right kinds of workouts or activities, done regularly, can raise levels of heart-protecting HDL cholesterol and drop dangerous triglyceride levels. The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends the following activies as safe to follow

  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycling
  • Racewalking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Hiking uphill
  • You can add Resistance Training for Heart Health to lower LDL levels. Resistance training uses machines, free weights, bands, or your own body weight to build muscle. Adding muscle increases your metabolic rate, so you’ll burn more calories even when you’re at rest. The AHA recommends strength training at least twice a week for heart health.

    Be food aware- track your Diet

    Your body can produce all the cholesterol it needs. High-cholesterol foods are often foods that are also high in saturated fats. These foods should be limited in a healthy diet Try to avoid much amount of – fatty meats, processed meats like salami and sausages, snack foods like chips, deep-fried foods, cakes, biscuits and pastries.

    Here are our dietery recommendations:

  • Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
  • Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have ‘added calcium’ soy drinks.
  • Choose lean meat (meat trimmed of fat or labelled as ‘heart smart’).
  • Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
  • Have fish (fresh or canned) at least twice a week.
  • Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
  • Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
  • Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
  • LDL cholesterol can be lowered by polyunsaturated oil (for example, sunflower or safflower oil). Eating oats and legumes can lower LDL cholesterol by five per cent. Food components like saponins (found in chickpeas, alfalfa sprouts and other foods) and sulphur compounds (like allicin – found in garlic and onions) may also have a positive effect in lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Plant sterols can lower cholesterol level. Consume nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables.
  • Don’t go by the labels

    Don’t avoid dairy foods just because they have cholesterol.

    Some people believe that cutting out dairy foods altogether is the safest option, but this isn’t true. Dairy foods are an important part of your daily diet and contribute many essential nutrients, especially calcium. Vegans, however, can obtain calcium from many other sources including soy milk.

    You don’t need to avoid eggs and seafood

    Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example: Egg yolks – a single egg yolk contains 200–250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake (300 mg). However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
    Seafood – prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.

    Reduce Portion Size to Lower Cholesterol

    Reduce food portion sizes to help keep your weight down to a healthy limit for heart health.Controlling your weight is an important part of getting to healthy cholesterol levels, so it’s crucial to know your portion sizes if you’re trying to lower cholesterol. A portion of starchy carbohydrate, like potato or pasta, should be only about half the size of a baseball. A heart-healthy portion of meat should be about the size of a deck of playing cards, or about three ounces.

    Restaurants commonly serve more food that you need, so consider splitting an entrée. Cooking at home will give you more control over your portion sizes, as well as what goes into each dish. You can learn more ways to enjoy smaller portions at the USDA’s Choose My Plate site.

    Stop smoking to lower cholesterol and protect your heart health.

    smoking

    There are many reasons your heart will thank you for not lighting up. Cigarette smoke raises levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and a blood fat called triglycerides. Those cause waxy plaque to build up in your arteries. At the same time, it lowers HDL, or “good” cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease.It also indirectly affects the heart in the following ways.

  • Clogs your arteries
  • Increases clotting
  • Fills your lungs with tar
  • Thickens your blood
  • Take help when needed

    For some people, diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. High blood cholesterol levels often have a genetic component. Some people inherit altered genes that cause high cholesterol and this cannot usually be changed sufficiently by lifestyle or diet. If you are not able to cut down cholesterol levels on your own, it is advisable to do so in your doctor’s guidance.

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