Cholesterol is a waxy substance. It comes from your own body, and the food you eat. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. But, it produces a surplus when you eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats. Saturated and trans fats are found in foods like fatty or processed meats, full-fat dairy products and fried foods.
To achieve or maintain desirable cholesterol levels, you first have to know where you stand. Your primary care physician can ask for a Lipid profile test that will tell you exactly your cholesterol levels.
This excess blood cholesterol can form plaque in your arteries. This makes it more difficult for your heart to circulate blood and can create dangerous, life-threatening blood clots. If a clot blocks an artery to the heart, it can cause a heart attack. If a clot blocks an artery to the brain, it can cause a stroke.
There are two different types of cholesterol such as low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol. It causes plaque buildup in arteries. If your LDL levels are higher than recommended, you might be at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. HDL is considered “good” cholesterol. It helps remove that excess cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL are linked to a lower risk of heart attack.
For the lipid profile test, you must visit the best diagnostic center near me.
Tips to follow to maintain a healthy cholesterol level:-
For a healthy cholesterol level, you must follow few crucial steps. It begins with healthy eating, performing exercises and so on.
Eat healthy food
To lower or maintain blood cholesterol levels, it’s important to eat a heart-healthy diet that includes a regular intake of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Low-fat dairy and poultry are also important. You should consume unsaturated vegetable oils such as canola or olive oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil and chia seeds can also help lower triglyceride levels, another type of blood lipid associated with cardiovascular disease that often accompanies a low HDL. Avocados (high in unsaturated fat), red wine (in moderation) and high-fiber fruits and grains like apples, pears, prunes, oatmeal and barley, are also known to decrease LDL-cholesterol and can help increase HDL levels. Vegetarian dishes also offer a great way to get cholesterol-friendly protein and nutrients without all the meat.
Most importantly, limit or avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats like fatty cuts of meat, chips, butter, cakes, cookies, and stick or hydrogenated margarine or shortening. These foods can contribute to artery-clogging cholesterol.
Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process called hydrogenation. This is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable. The resulting trans fats are not fully saturated and are called partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs).
They are solid at room temperature, which gives more texture than unsaturated liquid oils to products like spreads, pastries, and cookies. Their increased texture, as well as shelf stability, is what makes trans fats so attractive to food companies.
Choosing to go for a regular exercise program can have many positive effects when it comes to controlling cholesterol. Exercise can help raise HDL, lower LDL and triglycerides. It helps improve blood flow throughout your body, send more oxygen to your muscles, and lower your blood pressure.
Exercising can also help you lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI). Your healthcare professional can suggest the best type of exercise and frequency to help you reach your goals.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start. And if you do smoke, now is a great time to quit. Even after changing your diet and exercise routine, smoking can prevent the improvement of your cholesterol levels, while quitting can result in positive changes in your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Exercising will be easier too, and your risk of heart attack and heart disease will decrease over time.
Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly:-
- Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
- Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
- Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker
Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Small changes add up. If you drink sugary beverages, switch to tap water. Snack on air-popped popcorn or pretzels — but keep track of the calories. If you crave something sweet, try sherbet or candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans.
Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking.
Drink alcohol only in moderation
Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.
Follow Your Prescription
Even when following a strict diet, sticking to an exercise routine and quitting smoking, some people still need a little extra help controlling their blood cholesterol. In fact, some people have high blood cholesterol simply because of genetics. About 1.5 million people in the United States have a form of high cholesterol called familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that prevents the liver from removing excess LDL cholesterol from the blood.
For most of these people, cholesterol-lowering medication is a great option. If your physician prescribes medication, be sure to take it exactly as directed. And when your cholesterol numbers start improving, it’s not a sign to stop taking the prescription. Never skip a dose or stop taking a medication until your physician tells you to stop taking it.