Have you ever wondered how you could reduce your cholesterol levels? A high cholesterol level is a know risk factor in the development of heart disease. This is a well known fact.
Most patients who come to clinic or hospital wish to know 2 things –
- I have followed a good diet and exercise regularly, but still my cholesterol is high. Why is that?
- What can I do to reduce my cholesterol level?
To answer question 1, a lot of times high cholesterol has some sort of genetic component, which is why it can be elevated. However, many of us feel that we follow a healthy diet, but in reality it is not really as healthy as we think it is.
More important than the ‘why’ is the ‘how’. How can cholesterol levels be reduced?
Medication is one such way, but I guess you don’t really want to read about that. Instead, let’s look at some of the simple ways you can reduce your cholesterol levels without medicines.
#1 Lose Weight
There is a link between being overweight and having high cholesterol levels. While this link is strong, it is not necessarily true all the time. But losing weight can help reduce cholesterol levels.
Clinical studies have shown that reducing your body weight by just 5 kg can lower your bad cholesterol by 8%. That is quite a change really.
Weight loss can be achieved through a good diet and exercise plan. If you want to lose weight through dieting, then try cutting out simple carbohydrates like rice, sugar, sweets and potatoes from your diet. Instead, increase your intake of fiber and low glycemic index foods like whole grain cereals and wheat.
The recommended exercise to stay healthy is 150 minutes a week according to the American Heart Association. However, this only helps maintain weight, not lose it.
Instead, exercise at least 60 minutes a day, with at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day. This can help you shave off any excess fat and reduce your weight and your cholesterol.
#2 Increase Your Fiber Intake
There is enough evidence now available from scientific studies that eating a diet that is rich in fiber can reduce cholesterol levels. Not just that, high fiber diets can protect your heart.
One primary advantage of fiber is that it helps fills up the stomach. This has the advantage of helping you avoid snacking on junk food in between meals. It is these little snacks that are often responsible for weight gain.
There are 2 kinds of fiber – insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber helps is keeping your bowels moving, while soluble fiber helps protect your heart, controls your blood sugar and reduces cholesterol levels.
You can get soluble fiber through your diet, or if you wish to get the right kind, then make sure you use a good supplement.
#3 Get Your Omega 3’s
Clinical studies have shown that regular consumption of foods that are rich in omega fatty acids can strengthen your heart and reduce your cholesterol.
One particular type of cholesterol that can be reduced by omega 3 fatty acid intake is triglycerides. Recent research has shown that elevated triglyceride levels can lead to heart disease.
The best source of omega 3 fatty acids are oily fish such as sardines and mackerel. If you can’t eat fish regularly, you could buy a fish oil supplement.
Of course, if you are vegetarian, then use an ayurvedic omega 3 supplement such as Biovit 369.
#4 Snack On Nuts
Nuts are great as a snack, but only some are a cut above the rest. Certain nuts such as walnuts are high in protein and in essential fatty acids.
When eaten in moderation on a regular basis, they can play an important role in reducing bad cholesterol levels. They also fill you up as a snack, so will help you avoid gorging on junk food when you are hungry.
#5 Use Olive Oil
The Mediterranean diet is well known to have protective effects on the heart. The primary reason for this is the use of large amounts of cold pressed olive oil.
Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated and poly unsaturated fats which do not elevate cholesterol levels. In fact, they help increase the levels of good cholesterol and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol. In fact, studies have shown that regular consumption of olive oil can reduce your bad cholesterol levels by 15%.
If you wish to cook your food in a healthy manner at home, then make sure you use cold pressed olive oil. You can buy these online or in your local store.
#6 Avoid getting Stressed
Stress is a risk factor for a number of conditions. Interestingly, reducing the levels of stress can help reduce the levels of cholesterol.
it is simple. Just take up yoga or some form of meditation. Indulge in your hobbies from time to time. Make sure you take a break with the family on occasions.
#7 Stop Smoking
Not much needs to be said about the harmful effects of smoking. We all know it, yet many of us continue to smoke.
Smoking is responsible for the development of atherosclerosis. This is a condition where fat is deposited along the inner lining of the blood vessel, leading to narrowing of the vessel.
High cholesterol, particularly LDL forms an important part of the ‘atherosclerotic plaque’, which is responsible for heart attacks and strokes. Smoking accelerates the development of these plaques, and further increases the risk of heart disease.
By stopping smoking, you can reduce bad cholesterol levels, and in turn reduce your risk of heart disease.
#8 Enjoy Life!
Finally, get out and get some sun! Take a holiday or just indulge in your hobby now and again. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a man with high cholesterol!!
High cholesterol levels need not be worrying. Just taking simple measures can help reduce it is a safe and effective manner. Make medicines wait!