Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells of the body. The body utilizes it to protect nerves, make cell tissues, vitamin D, and produce certain hormones. The liver is responsible for the production of all the cholesterol required by the body. But cholesterol is also found in food products. Too much cholesterol-rich diet can increase the cholesterol level in the blood. High cholesterol levels can negatively affect health. Luckily, there are lifestyle changes that can help to maintain cholesterol.
There are two main types of cholesterol:
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) – This carries cholesterol to the body. This is called “bad” cholesterol because the LDL level leads to the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) – This removes cholesterol from the other parts of the body and brink them to the liver. Liver than removes the cholesterol from the body. This is called “good” cholesterol.
Exercise can raise the levels of HDL cholesterol. It also reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood). 30 minutes work out, 4 to 5 times a week is beneficial.
1. Add Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat. They also add flavor and variety to the diet. They are the best source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
2. Pick “Good” Fats Instead of “Bad” Fats. Fat is an essential nutritional element of a healthy diet, but there are “bad” fats and “good” fats. Bad fats include saturated and trans fats. They are found in foods such as:
Reduce the amount of saturated fat from the diet. These fats have been modified by a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable as an ingredient. The resulting trans fats are not fully saturated and are solid at room temperatures. This is the reason why food companies have used trans fats in products like spreads, pastries, and cookies. They provide more texture than unsaturated liquid oils. Unfortunately, partially hydrogenated trans fats act differently in the body than other fats and not in the right way. Trans fats enhance total cholesterol and LDL but reduce HDL. Unsaturated fat or good fat is found in vegetables, grains, and tree nuts. For example, people can use olive oil or canola oil when cooking instead of butter or refine.
3. Look For Other Sources of Protein – Grab on a handful of almonds or pecans during snack time. Soy is also a great source of protein. Examples of soy include soymilk, edamame (green soybeans), tofu, and soy protein shakes.
4. Add More Soluble Fiber in the Diet – Soluble fiber is a group of compounds present in plants that cannot be digested by humans but they are soluble in water. Add good sources of fiber to meals. Examples of some fiber enrich sources includes:
In addition to fiber, whole grains also supply vitamins and important nutrients not found in foods made with white flour.
Being overweight can raise cholesterol levels. If an individual is obese, it can increase the risk of many diseases. A high level of LDL is one such complication of obesity. Losing weight can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Smoking can reduce HDL cholesterol. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also affect with HDL levels. Individuals who smoke often should talk to the doctor about developing a plan to help quit smoking.
[Always consult your physician before taking any supplements]
Plant Sterols and Stanols – Plant sterols and stanols can help the body from absorbing cholesterol. Sterols have been added to some foods, including margarine and spreads, orange juice, and yogurt. Sterols and stanols are also found in some dietary supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – If an individual has heart disease or high triglycerides, consider taking an omega-3 or other supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids are an excellent supplement for the heart as it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Red Yeast Rice – Red yeast rice may help reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the body. It is available as a dietary supplement. Consult the doctor before taking red yeast rice, especially if an individual is seeking a cholesterol-lowering medicine.
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