By Dr B S Praveen Kumar
Published on: 07/07/2022
Cholesterol is a waxy molecule found in the blood. The body requires cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high amounts of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks.
Let’s decode dealing with bad cholesterol by only making a few lifestyle changes.
Making certain altercations can help improve your cholesterol levels and boost the cholesterol-lowering power of medications significantly.
High cholesterol levels might lead to the formation of fatty deposits in the blood vessels. These deposits ultimately build up, making it harder for blood to flow freely through the arteries and can sometimes break suddenly and form a clot, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
What causes high cholesterol?
An unhealthy lifestyle is the most common cause of high cholesterol, such habits include:
- Unhealthy eating habits, such as consuming high amounts of saturated fats present in certain meats, chocolates, dairy products, baked goods, processed foods etc. Trans fat is another form that can be found in fried and processed meals. Consuming these fats may increase LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Lack of physical activity can lower HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Smoking reduces HDL cholesterol, especially in women. It also raises LDL cholesterol.
High cholesterol can also be caused by genetics and other medical problems and medications.
How to lower your cholesterol levels?
Medications can help in lowering cholesterol levels. However, the first step in lowering cholesterol is to make lifestyle changes such as taking a proper diet, exercising regularly, and few other changes. Here are five tips to get you started!
- 1. Eat heart-healthy foods: A few dietary changes can lower your cholesterol levels and help improve your overall heart health:
- Saturated fats should be reduced: Saturated fats, which are mostly found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise cholesterol levels. One could reduce the intake of saturated fats to lower the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL).
- Avoid trans fats: Trans fats, (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil on food labels), are commonly found in margarine and store-bought crackers, cookies, and cakes. These are known to increase overall cholesterol levels
- Eat foods rich in omega: Foods like salmon, walnuts, mackerel and flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have no effect on LDL(bad) cholesterol. However, they do have other heart-healthy benefits, such as lowering of blood pressure.
- Increase soluble fibre in your diet: Soluble fibres can help lower cholesterol absorption in the bloodstream. Foods like brussel sprouts, kidney beans, oatmeal, pears and apples contain soluble fibres.
- Add whey protein: Many health benefits attributed to dairy products may be linked to whey protein, a substance found in dairy products. Whey protein as a supplement, decreases LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- 2. Exercise and increase your physical activity: Exercising can help lower cholesterol levels. Physical workouts help with an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. With your doctor's permission, get 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three times a week.
- Increasing your physical activity, even for short intervals many times a day, can help you lose some weight.
- 3. Quit smoking: Quitting smoking can help to improve the HDL cholesterol levels. More such benefits include:
- Your blood pressure and heart rate will return to normal within 20 minutes of quitting.
- Both blood circulation and lung function will improve within three months of quitting.
- After a year, the risk of heart diseases is reduced by fifty percent than that of a smoker.
- 4. Lose weight: Excess weight raises LDL cholesterol levels. Weight loss, even if it is only 2 to 5 kgs, can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
- 5. Limit your intake of alcohol: Consumption of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol. Too much alcohol can cause major health problems such as high blood pressure, strokes and heart failure.
- At times, these steps have little impact on cholesterol, though they can still improve your overall health in many ways. Even if your doctor prescribes medicines to lower cholesterol levels, continue to follow the above lifestyle changes. They will definitely make you feel better and may also help reduce your medicine dosage.
- To avoid any cholesterol-related heart problems, you should get a full heart check-up that includes a lipid profile blood test at regular intervals.