Cholesterol is a substance similar to fat, which found in all the cells of the body. The body needs the so-called good cholesterol (HDL) to be able to produce hormones, vitamin D, and also substances that help us in the digestion of food.
How to lower cholesterol: what are its main causes
Cholesterol is, therefore, a double-edged sword, because it is necessary for our body, but at the same time, it is harmful if it is produced in high quantities. In this case, you have to lower cholesterol quickly because it is dangerous. The main causes of this bad cholesterol are:
- Unhealthy eating habits, such as eating many saturated fats, found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, industrial pastries, processed or fried foods.
- The lack of physical activity, with a lot of sedentary lifestyles and little exercise.
- Smoking causes lower good cholesterol, especially in women.
There are other causes, which are purely genetic, and that can affect the appearance of bad cholesterol. They are the following:
- Age: Cholesterol levels tend to increase as you get older. Although less common, young people, including children and adolescents, may also have high cholesterol.
- Family history: High cholesterol may come from a family history.
- Race: Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans usually have higher cholesterol levels and harmful than whites.
- Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your cholesterol level
Ways to lower cholesterol
Improving cholesterol levels does not necessarily mean adding another medication to the list. Diet and lifestyle changes can frequently have a positive impact. Cholesterol plays a vital role in the body’s functions, such as forming cell membranes and producing hormones. However, high levels of cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol, can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Here are detailed strategies to reduce cholesterol levels:
- Revamp Your Diet:
- Reduce Saturated Fats: Saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol. These fats are primarily found in animal-based products like red meat, butter, cheese, and whole-milk dairy products. Replacing these with lean proteins, like poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy, can help lower cholesterol levels.
- Avoid Trans Fats: Trans fats, often found in fried foods, baked goods, and processed snacks, can raise LDL cholesterol while lowering high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good’ cholesterol. Try to replace these foods with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce cholesterol levels and provide other heart benefits. Foods rich in omega-3 include fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna), flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, and soybeans.
- Boost Soluble Fiber Intake: Soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol in your bloodstream, lowering overall cholesterol levels. Foods rich in soluble fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. For example, you could start your day with oatmeal topped with fruit, have a lunch that includes a salad or a lentil soup, and for dinner, include a serving of vegetables and brown rice. Fiber is essential to lower cholesterol. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes are also essential for a special diet to lower cholesterol.
- Include Whey Protein: Studies have shown that whey protein can lower both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, as well as blood pressure. You can find whey protein in dairy products or as a protein powder supplement.
- Eat nuts: Studies show that nuts and almonds can have a significant effect on the level of LDL (“bad” cholesterol). Two ounces (approximately a handful) daily is what is required.
- Change your oil: Change the regular cooking oil for olive oil or Coconut oil, and it will lower your LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL (or “good” cholesterol). About two tablespoons a day is all that is required to obtain benefits. Likewise, you may perceive improvements in inflammatory arthritis.
- Look for fortified foods. Compounds derived from plants called sterols inhibit cholesterol absorption. Several products fortified with these supplements have reached supermarkets in recent years. Look for them in orange, margarine, and yogurt juices.
- Avoid from processed foods, pastries, baked goods or fried foods, and instead of eating snacks of fried potatoes, processed meats such as sausages
- Get Active:
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- Consistent Exercise: Regular physical activity can raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. This could be brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or a sport that you enjoy. For strength training, activities could include weight lifting or yoga.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight:
- Even losing 5-10% of your body weight if you’re overweight can significantly reduce cholesterol levels. Try to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine. For example, opting for the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away to walk more can help.
- Limit Alcohol and Avoid Smoking:
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol in moderation, or not at all, is key. While moderate alcohol consumption has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, and increased calorie intake.
- Smoking: If you smoke, quit. Quitting can increase your HDL cholesterol while improving your lung health and lowering your risk for heart disease.
- If lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your cholesterol, your doctor may recommend medication. This can include statins, bile-acid-binding resins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and injectable medications. Your healthcare provider can help determine the best treatment based on your overall health and specific needs.
It is also advisable to visit our family doctor for a regular check-up, and in all likelihood, he will indicate that we perform blood tests to check cholesterol levels. They can provide advice based on your personal health situation and ensure that your methods for lowering cholesterol are safe and effective.