Have you ever wondered what is the leading cause of death around the world? Is it cancer, diabetes or something else? Well, the answer is ischaemic heart disease, responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths.
Heart disease is caused by various factors, one of which is high cholesterol levels in the body.
According to WHO, a high level of cholesterol is thought to be responsible for 2.6 million deaths around the world, or roughly 4.5 per cent of all deaths. Not only this, but high cholesterol is also a major reason behind heart disease and stroke.
A high level of cholesterol can affect you in many ways and reduce your quality of life. If you have high cholesterol, then it is time to take charge and do something about it.
In this post, I will be sharing some effective ways through which you can reduce the cholesterol levels in your body.
But first lets start with the basics.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid present in every cell in the human body and is an essential part of the human diet. It is required by your body to create cells, produce vitamins and other hormones.
It comes from two sources. First, your liver makes the cholesterol your body needs to work properly. Second, the rest of cholesterol comes from foods we eat, such as meat, eggs and dairy products.
You might be wondering how cholesterol can cause problems if it is necessary for the body. Well, it is necessary, but the problem begins when your body gets overloaded with cholesterol.
The different types of cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL(low-density lipoprotein) and HDL(high-density lipoprotein). The proteins which carry the cholesterol to the various part of the body are called Lipoproteins.
LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol and is more likely to build up in the arteries and make them hard and narrow.
This build-up is known as plaque(a fatty deposit). Plaque can make your arteries narrow, hard, and less flexible. If plaque builds up in your arteries, it can block blood flow to your organs and cause them not to get enough blood and nutrients. This causes heart attacks, strokes, and other serious health problems.
HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol and helps get rid of “bad” LDL cholesterol from the body. It prevents the formation of plaque inside the walls of arteries.
It transports LDL (bad) cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body. However, HDL cholesterol doesn’t eliminate LDL cholesterol completely, but it reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
What are the causes of high cholesterol?
If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it’s important to know what’s causing it so you can take the proper steps to manage and lower your levels.
High cholesterol can be caused by a number of factors, including:
Unhealthy eating habits
A poor diet has been a long-standing negative habit for people. Many people think that diet only relates to the food you eat, but diet refers to all of the food and nutrition you put into your body.
For example, the fats you eat, the vitamins you take, and even the pollutants you inhale are all considered part of your diet.
Unhealthy fats (saturated and trans-fats) found in foods like fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, coconut oil, palm oil, deep-fried foods, and commercially baked products have been linked to increase cholesterol levels.
Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat has built up to the point where it is potentially harmful to one’s health, resulting in a shorter lifespan and an increase in health problems.
According to studies, obesity is connected to higher cholesterol levels in the body. If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to develop high cholesterol.
Lack of exercise
According to WHO, more than a quarter of the world’s adult population (1.4 billion adults) is insufficiently active. People who are not physically active enough have a 20 percent to 30 percent higher risk of death than those who are physically active enough.
If you are not concerned about your health and have not made exercise a habit even after the Covid outbreak, you are likely to develop health problems in the future.
A combination of a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet has been linked to an increased risk of high cholesterol levels.
Smoking and alcohol
According to the Lancet, there were 1.1 billion smokers worldwide in 2019. As a result, the number of smokers in 2021 maybe even higher. Not only that, but tobacco use is responsible for 7.7 million deaths worldwide, with one in every five men dying due to it.
Smoking damages the walls of the arteries, causing atherosclerosis or artery hardening. It also reduces HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the body.
Alcohol is another culprit that affects your cholesterol level. Excessive alcohol consumption can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
You might have the best of intentions, but your genes could still be conspiring against you.
According to studies, your genetics can also affect your chances of developing cholesterol. If either of your parents has high cholesterol, you may be at risk of developing it as well.
In this case, you should be more careful about your diet and lifestyle.
Stress is one of those things that feels like a normal part of life for a lot of people. However, this normal part of life is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
According to research, high cholesterol can also be caused by a high degree of stress in the body.
When you’re stressed, your body creates a lot of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. If you are constantly stressed, these hormones raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.
9 ways to reduce your cholesterol
However, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol in your body, but it can be detected with a blood test.
If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, there are many things you can do to lower your cholesterol. The best part is that you can do all these things from the comfort of your own home.
Here are ten ways through which you can reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
Consume a high-fibre diet
Fibre is one of the most important components of a healthy diet, as it improves digestion and lowers cholesterol levels in the body.
It works as a “cleaner” in the digestive system. It binds with cholesterol and removes it from the body.
According to the mayo clinic, soluble fibre can help to reduce cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. By consuming 5 to 10 grams of soluble fibre each day, you can lower your LDL cholesterol.
Here are some fibre-rich foods to include in your diet.
- Kidney beans and chickpeas
Incorporate exercise into your day
Exercising is beneficial to the body, but can it help lower cholesterol? Yes, it can.
According to research, exercise has been shown to improve the symptomatology and physical fitness of people with dyslipidemia and lower cholesterol levels.
Regular physical activity has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
However, how much exercise you need to do for lowering cholesterol levels has yet to be discovered.
Avoid trans fats
Trans fats are commonly referred to as “bad” fats because they lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, raising your risk of heart disease.
According to a recent study, eating a meal high in trans fats increases LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL cholesterol levels in the body.
It is recommended that one should not have more than about 5g of trans fats a day.
Some of the foods that are high in trans fats are:
- Fried foods
- Fried chicken
- Processed foods
Avoid smoking as much as possible
Yes, it’s true. If you want to maintain a healthy cholesterol level, then you’ll have to stop smoking.
According to a study, people who smoke cigarettes have significantly higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.
When you smoke, it causes your LDL cholesterol to become stickier, sticking to the walls of your arteries and blocking them. This increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Not only this, but smoking reduces HDL cholesterol, which is responsible for removing bad cholesterol from arterial walls.
Eat more omega-3
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that the human body cannot produce, so it must be obtained through food or supplementation.
It performs a range of tasks in the body, including maintaining the health of your immune system and brain.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to significantly lower blood triglyceride levels. It also improves the levels of HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol in the body.
Here are some omega-3 rich foods to include in your diet.
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Maintain a healthy weight
A person who is overweight or obese is at risk for various health problems, including high cholesterol.
Losing a few pounds can help lower your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.
Losing weight and becoming more active can also help you reverse insulin resistance, allowing your body to regulate hormones and lipoproteins better.
Use alcohol in moderation
Although moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to improve HDL cholesterol levels in the body, the problem arises when consumption becomes excessive.
According to research, excessive drinking of alcohol may increase LDL cholesterol in your body.
When the liver processes the alcohol, it uses cholesterol as a building block. As a result, the liver produces more cholesterol than usual and the cholesterol levels in the blood increase.
The majority of people believe that cholesterol is a problem that can only be treated with medications and a change in diet. However, when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels in the body, stress reduction is frequently overlooked.
According to research, stress has a significant impact on cholesterol levels in the body and can even cause high cholesterol.
If you want to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, you must reduce your stress levels.
Laughter is the best medicine, but did you know that it can also help you reduce your cholesterol?
It’s true, according to WebMd, laughter is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It can help in improving the HDL cholesterol levels in the body.
An active sense of humour has been discovered to lower the levels of triglycerides, a harmful fat in blood.
Not only that but laughing reduces stress and tension, which in turn helps lower cholesterol levels in the body.
What foods should you cut out?
The most important thing you can do to lower your cholesterol is eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, lentils and vegetables.
Some of the foods that you should avoid are:
- Foods that are high in salt.
- Fatty and sugary snack foods such as pastries, biscuits and cakes.
- Full-fat dairy products such as cream, curd, milk and cheese.
- Processed foods.
- Deep-fried foods.
In conclusion, it is important to note that high cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart diseases. It puts you at risk of heart attack and stroke.
A healthy and well-balanced diet and regular exercise are said to be most beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels. In case if these methods prove to be ineffective, you should consult your doctor.
I hope that this information will help you to improve your cholesterol levels and lead a healthy life.
If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments section.
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture rice is cholesterol free. So eating it will not increase your cholesterol levels.
The way coffee affects cholesterol levels may be determined by the brewing method. Coffee that is not filtered has the potential to raise cholesterol levels, whereas instant and filter coffee have a lower risk.
Total cholesterol levels of less than 200 (mg/dL) is considered healthy.
Cholesterol level that is between 200 and 239 mg/dl is considered moderate.
Cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 (mg/dL).
Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and other nutrients. However, they are also naturally high in cholesterol. But according to some medical experts this cholesterol does not raise your cholesterol levels.