High cholesterol is unsafe and it can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke over time. You need to lower cholesterol levels by following the tips mentioned in this article. If your levels are teetering on the higher side, here’s everything you need to know about cholesterol, ways to lower cholesterol levels, and the best foods to lower them.
Cholesterol is a constituent that can block arteries if there are high levels of it in the body. Since your body makes cholesterol naturally, consumption of too many foods that contain cholesterol can syndicate to produce an excess of cholesterol in your body. And that’s when things can turn bad.
Among two different types of cholesterol, High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is known as “good” cholesterol, since it works to remove LDL (“bad” cholesterol), from your arteries to the liver and gets eliminated. In terms of LDL cholesterol, it gets accumulated in the arteries and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. This is the reason why LDL is known as bad cholesterol.
How to improve cholesterol profiles
Researchers have examined and studied blood samples from 4,681 participants, comprising cases of stroke, coronary heart disease and healthy individuals. They paralleled the lipid indicators in the blood of members who had numerous healthy lifestyle habits to those of members with less healthy lifestyles.
They found many lipid markers associated with healthy lifestyle practices that led to a significant reduction (14%) in the risk of heart disease. Precisely, a healthy lifestyle was linked with very-low-density lipoprotein and HDL levels in the blood.
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that cholesterol-lowering drugs combined with healthy behaviours would help individuals at risk of heart disease to achieve the greatest heart-protecting benefits.
Tips to lower cholesterol levels
1. Eating foods that are healthy for the heart
Changes in your eating habit and diet plan can change and lower cholesterol levels.
Limit consumption of saturated fat
An increase in the consumption of foods high in saturated fat can increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood while depressing good cholesterol levels. Foods like beef, pork, lamb, butter, cream, milk, cheese, and yoghurt, as well as palm and coconut oil, contains high saturated fats.
No Trans fats in your diet
Eating a lot of Trans fats that are found in fried foods, pastries, pizza dough, doughnuts, muffins, cookies, crackers, and many pre-packaged foods can also raise your cholesterol levels.
However, not all fats are bad. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats considered good fats are found in salmon, herring, avocados, olives, walnuts, and vegetable oils are healthier fats. As per the recommendations, you should limit your daily calories from any kind of fat to 30 per cent.
Include fibre-rich food in your diet
Fibre is an excellent nutrient for your heart health, especially the soluble fibre can help lower your low-density lipoprotein levels. An inadequate amount of fibre intake can also affect your cholesterol levels.
To increase your intake of fibre-rich foods and prevent heart disease or help maintain your body weight, foods like oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, lentils, fruits and vegetables in your diet will be more advantageous.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
Since omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect low-density lipoprotein profiles, they are considered as good fats. Foods like salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and help in reducing blood pressure.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercising is said to improve your cholesterol levels by raising HDL cholesterol which is deliberated as good cholesterol. Workout at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily and sometimes include rigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes. Consider taking a brisk walk, cycling, playing your favourite sports and stay motivated by joining some of the exercise groups.
3. Drink alcohol in moderation
Extreme consumption of alcohol is one of the risk factors for an increase in unhealthy cholesterol levels. Drinking alcohol in moderation to no more than two drinks per day for men, or one drink for women will help in maintaining an adequate amount of good cholesterol and lower cholesterol levels significantly.
4. Quit smoking
Research has exposed that smoking can double the effect by increasing the bad cholesterol levels and causing a decline in good cholesterol levels. Smoking is measured as a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Learn more about the health effects of cigarette smoking and quit smoking to keep heart disease at bay.
5. Never disregard your existing medical conditions
Quite a lot of medical issues including high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and hypothyroidism can also lead to an increase in blood cholesterol levels. It is, therefore, significant to manage these health conditions to lower cholesterol levels, if you have one, to decrease your risk of heart disease.
Best foods to lower cholesterol levels
According to nutritionists, there’s a long list of healthy foods which helps us to lower cholesterol levels. But never take into granted that a single food can drastically decrease your cholesterol levels. Heart specialists and nutritionist suggest incorporating heart-healthy foods in our diets to bring cholesterol to a suitable level.
Below, we have listed some of the best foods that lower cholesterol;