How to reduce cholesterol
Modifying your diet to a more heart-friendly one.
High blood cholesterol levels can be managed to a great extent with lifestyle changes. However, not taking medicine isn’t a solution because only lifestyle changes may not be sufficient to treat high cholesterol levels. Some of the four lifestyle changes may help to lower the dose of the medicines along with their side effects, which include:
- Modifying your diet to a more heart-friendly one: Trying to modify your regular diet to a healthier one can help to regulate cholesterol levels to some extent. Some of the modifications appropriate for cholesterol reduction include:
- Reducing saturated fats: Saturated fats found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products can aggravate cholesterol levels. Limiting or moderating saturated fats can help to control cholesterol levels.
- Abandon trans-fats: Trans-fats, also labeled as partially hydrogenated oil, can increase your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and reduce your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol, which might increase the risk of heart diseases. Check out the package labeling for partially hydrogenated oil.
- Replacing meat with fish: Replacing red meat with fish will reduce your exposure to saturated fats, thus reducing the risk of cholesterol levels. Opt for fishless in mercury, such as sardines, salmon, and bluefin tuna. Fish high in mercury levels such as sharks, swordfish, and king mackerel can increase the risk of heart diseases.
- Opt for olive oils: Substituting butter and margarine with olive oil may help to reduce the LDL levels. Olive oil is less processed and is rich in antioxidants.
- Increase dietary fibers: Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
- Managing weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can lower cholesterol levels. For an overweight person, just dropping 10 pounds can cut the LDL by 8%. Below is the ideal calorie requirement for different gender and activity levels:
- Increasing your activity levels: Engaging in some physical activities for 2.5 hours every week is enough to increase HDL and alleviate LDL and triglycerides. Spend time in activities of your choice.
- Curb on alcohol or smoking: Moderating alcohol and cigarette smoking helps to lower cholesterol levels and serious health problems.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the cells of the body. A normal level of cholesterol is needed for healthy cells and tissues. High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of various health conditions such as heart diseases and stroke.
The normal cholesterol levels have been summarized below:
- Anyone aged 19 years or younger
- Men aged 20 years or older
- Women aged 20 years or older
- Total cholesterol: It is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood. It includes both LDL and HDL cholesterol.
- LDL (bad) cholesterol: It is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries.
- HDL (good) cholesterol: It helps remove cholesterol from your arteries.
- Non-HDL: This number is your total cholesterol minus your HDL. Your non-HDL includes LDL and other types of cholesterol such as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL).
- Triglycerides: It is another form of fat in your blood that can increase the risk of heart disease, especially in women.