Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. Your body uses cholesterol for various purposes like maintaining cell membranes, synthesizing vitamin D, making multiple hormones in the body like cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen, and facilitating the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, K, and E.
However, cholesterol is awful for us if it exceeds certain levels in the body. Cholesterol has three types: LDL or low-density cholesterol is dangerous at high levels.
Cholesterol causes many issues to the human body, and today we’ll discuss the best way to reduce it and a few more ways to keep it in check! Let’s get started…
Ban trans fat for best results
Trans fat is perhaps the most significant dietary source of cholesterol, and the best way to reduce cholesterol formation is by reducing the amount of trans fat you consume.
Trans fats from hydrogenated vegetable oils raise the LDL cholesterol levels in the body and reduce HDL (good cholesterol).
You must read nutritional labels before buying food and ensure they do not contain trans fats. Keep an eye out for foods such as baked goods, frozen pizza, margarine, and microwaveable popcorn. These products usually have unhealthy levels of trans fats and are best to avoid.
Studies show that consuming trans fat, saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats can cause coronary heart disease, a major health risk!
And did you know even food labeling won’t be 100% accurate? The US FDA allows companies to mention that there are no trans fats if trans fat levels are below .5%.
Remember to always check the ingredients and avoid products that say that they contain ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”
Quitting smoking can reduce LDL levels.
Cigarette smoke changes how our body regulates cholesterol, making our bodies more susceptible to heart-related health issues. The tar in tobacco is more damaging than nicotine.
Smoking prevents the immune system from returning cholesterol via the blood back to the liver for processing. These immune cells tend to cause clogs and blockages in the arteries, leading to heart issues.
Acrolein, one of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, can affect the HDL cholesterol in the body and lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol, which can lead to the development of heart disease.
So quitting smoking is necessary for proper cholesterol metabolism and overall heart health.
Chow Down On Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts
Snacking between meals to boost your energy or to satisfy a food craving is not unhealthy if the food is not high in trans and saturated fats.
Snacking on fruits, vegetables, and nuts helps you avoid bad fats and provides you with lots of fiber.
Because nuts are high in unsaturated fats – the best source of fat, they can raise your HDL levels and reduce LDL levels, making them excellent additions to a heart-healthy diet.
Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts are also excellent sources of soluble fibers and can help further reduce cholesterol levels. Try adding strawberries, oranges, carrots, broccoli, and handfuls of cashews or walnuts to your diet!
Here’s a fun fact! Less food processing equals higher nutritional value. Always have whole fruits instead of fruit-based products as they contain more nutrients, healthy fats, and soluble fiber. Raw fruits, unprocessed nuts, and veggies go a long way in improving your cholesterol levels and overall health.
Use Alcohol in Moderation
Whether alcohol provides health benefits for its consumers is a highly debated topic. Research indicates that moderate use of alcohol can positively impact HDL levels in the body and reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, moderation is vital, and alcohol abuse is common if a user is not highly conscious of their consumption.
What makes alcohol dangerous is that it begins damaging the heart even before it starts showing symptoms of damage to the body, as per some studies.
Whether alcohol benefits the heart is still up for debate. However, we can all agree that too much alcohol can damage the human body and cause addiction.
Eat more Soluble Fibers
Fiber is known for being good for your digestive health. But many are under the impression that fiber only helps with digestion, but did you know fiber can improve your cardiovascular health?
Foods rich in soluble fiber are low in cholesterol. That’s because soluble fibers can dissolve into water.
Soluble fiber traps cholesterol in your gut, preventing it from getting into your bloodstream and lowering LDL cholesterols.
Try to incorporate whole grain bread, kidney beans, oats, and chickpeas into your diet, as they are rich in soluble fiber.
Monounsaturated fats are fats with only a single, double bond. The body processes them differently than saturated fats because of their double bond.
Having a low-fat diet is recommended by some dieticians for reducing cholesterol levels, but lowering fats can also lower the levels of good and necessary HDL cholesterol and increase triglycerides.
Research shows that a Mediterranean diet, high in monounsaturated fats, helps lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol levels in the body.
Monounsaturated fats can even prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which is extremely bad for the body as it can lead to cardiac complications and heart disease.
Good sources of monounsaturated fats are avocados, olives, nuts, and canola oil. Go on, add some to your diet and enjoy their benefits!
Exercise away to good health
Exercise is a fool-proof way to improve heart health. Exercise can improve your physique, raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, and lower the harmful LDL variant.
The American Heart Association advises that individuals do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity to reduce cholesterol levels.
Help your body by keeping active and moving. Exercise regulates blood pressure levels and provides many other benefits for our heart health.
Try simple workouts such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking on the treadmill, stretching, and weight lifting while watching your favorite TV series, and burn away that unwanted cholesterol.
By working out regularly, you can keep your cholesterol in check, regulate your blood pressure and stay happy both mentally and physically.
Stress is another important factor when it comes to cholesterol levels. High stress can increase bad cholesterol. When stressed, the body releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline.
Hormones trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. They increase heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
These responses further activate the release of triglycerides from your fat cells, the body’s stored energy. Triglycerides are transported throughout the body where needed with the help of Very low-density lipoproteins, or VLDLs. After transportation, it is these triglycerides that become LDL cholesterol.
Stress also has indirect effects on the body and mind that may increase cholesterol levels. Stress can even lead to substance abuse which can further affect cholesterol levels.
Also, studies show that sleep deprivation due to stress can lead to an increase in triglyceride levels and a decrease in HDL levels. Sleeping less than five hours a night can cause this.
Sleeping less than six hours at night can even increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in humans. So always try and get proper sleep at night.
Eat more polyunsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds, making them behave differently in the human body. Studies have shown that consuming polyunsaturated fats reduces the bad LDL cholesterol in our bodies, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Polyunsaturated fats can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome also.
Other heart-healthy fats come from foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Such as fish or fish oil supplements, like mackerel, herring, salmon, and shellfish. They’re essential for your daily requirement of Omega-3.
The overall best method to reduce harmful cholesterol levels is by abstaining from trans fats, But other practices too can be equally effective if you push yourself to make healthy lifestyle changes.