Studies have proved that cholesterol can be classified into good and bad. LDL (Low-density cholesterol) is commonly called bad cholesterol and HDL (High Density Cholestrol) is called good cholesterol. Good cholesterol is an essential part of our life and needed for the formation of hormones, cell membranes, vitamin D and bile acids. Cholesterol is synthesized in the liver, adrenals, intestines, testes and ovaries. Cholesterol is also derived from food. Unfortunately, bad cholesterol along with inflammation can increase the chances of heart diseases.
In simple terms, LDL encourages fat in the blood stream while HDL removes excess LDL and thus protects the heart. Rather than depending on medications which may have side-effects in the long run, adopting lifestyle changes are a better option to control LDL. Some methods to lower bad cholesterol are discussed below.
1. Make Changes in Food Intake and Dietary Patterns
The following changes in food habits will help in significantly reducing LDL in the body.
1. Include Colorful Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
High levels of anti-oxidants in fruits and vegetables helps control cholesterol levels in our body.
2. Increase Intake of Essential Fatty Acids
Increase in consumption of essential fatty acids increases HDL levels in our body. Foods that provide essential fatty acids include walnuts, Chia seeds, flax seeds and oily fish.
3. Increase Your Fiber Intake
4. Include Phyto-sterol rich Foods in Your Diet
Seeds, nuts and cold-pressed oils are rich sources of Phyto-sterol.
5. Reduce Consumption of Saturated Fats
Reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar as they easily convert into saturated fats.
6. Avoid Transfat
Processed foods like pastries, cakes, biscuits, greasy fast foods and so on contain trans-fat and should be avoided.
7. Substitute Oils
Switch to unsaturated fats.
2. Learn your Family History
Family History plays an important role in identifying risks of heart diseases. High cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and atherosclerosis are all known to affect cholesterol levels.
3. Decrease Stress Levels
Our body tends to synthesize more cholesterol under stress. A reduction in stress levels will naturally reduce the synthesis of cholesterol.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Even a marginal gain in weight can increase cholesterol levels significantly. Keeping a careful count on calories consumed is important to combat cholesterol.
5. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is known to reduce LDl and increase HDL, thus improving general health of the individual. 2-3 hours of exercise a week i.e., 30 minutes every day for a 5 day week is sufficient to lower cholesterol.
6. Check Nutrition Facts on Food Labels
Check food labels carefully and try to restrict cholesterol consumption to 300 mg per day. Whole milk, egg yolks and meats are sources rich in cholesterol. Saturated fats found in cheese, chicken skin, bacon and so on also need to be controlled. Making a conscious switch to skimmed milk and skinless meat as well as limiting intake of dairy and grain based desserts will help control the intake of saturated fats.
7. Quit Smoking
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and cholesterol. Smoking as well as exposure to secondary smoke are both cause for concern and need to be controlled.
8. Take Medication
This is the last option to control cholesterol and should be considered if lifestyle changes do not help control cholesterol levels.