How to keep cholesterol low?
High cholesterol levels is one of the conditions that unfortunately thousands of people suffer from. This condition is extremely dangerous, as it can lead to serious illness and can even be fatal.
However, by implementing some changes and following some simple tips, you can lower and keep cholesterol levels in your body under control.
In this article we will describe some simple guidelines that you can put into practice to keep your cholesterol low.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a very fat-like substance. Our body requires a certain amount of cholesterol to be able to produce vitamin D, hormones, and other substances that help with the food digestion process. This required amount of cholesterol is produced by our own body.
Usually, when we talk about cholesterol, we refer to the different types that exist: good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). Both are lipoproteins, a combination of lipids or fat and proteins. Lipids need to be fused to proteins in order to move around in the blood, and they have different functions.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein), also known as good cholesterol, is responsible for moving cholesterol from other parts of the body back to the liver. The liver is the organ in charge of eliminating cholesterol from our body.
- For its part, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), is known as bad cholesterol, since a high level of it produces a plaque accumulation in the veins.
As we already mentioned, our body requires a certain amount of cholesterol to work properly. But an excessive amount in the blood can adhere to the walls of our arteries, causing narrowing of the arteries or blocking them completely. All of this puts us at risk of heart disease.
Most common causes of high cholesterol
High cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia, is generally caused by the following factors:
- Genetic inheritance: occurs when the body tends to produce more cholesterol than is required by family inheritance.
- Inadequate diet: bad eating habits are one of the most common causes. This encompasses the high intake of sugars and saturated fats; in combination with poor intake of vegetables and fruits.
- Having diabetes or obesity.
- Do not practice sports activities or exercises at all.
How to treat high cholesterol?
When the cholesterol level exceeds the medically allowed, it is necessary to begin to treat itself consuming the appropriate medicines prescribed by a doctor.
Likewise, medical treatment must be complemented with a change of life that includes healthy eating, constant physical activity and appropriate weight control.
How to keep cholesterol low?
In the first instance, a balanced and healthy diet is essential to maintain adequate cholesterol levels.
Here are some tips:
Control your fat intake
The consumption of saturated fats is the main cause of the increase in the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL, as far as food is concerned. This fat is found in certain meats, in chocolate, in dairy products, in fried and processed foods, as well as in baked goods.
Another type of harmful fat is trans. This fat has the effect of increasing bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. Foods that contain trans fat are margarine, potato chips, crackers, among others.
These fats that are harmful to your health can be replaced by healthier fats such as the one you can consume in lean meats, canola, safflower or olive oils, and in walnuts.
Reduce the consumption of foods with cholesterol
You should limit the consumption of foods that contain cholesterol. These foods are of animal origin such as egg yolks, shrimp, liver, organ meats, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat soluble fiber
Food products rich in soluble fiber help with the digestive process, preventing our digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol.
Among these foods we find:
- Fruits such as oranges, pears, apples, plums, and bananas.
- Whole grain cereals such as oat bran and oats.
- Legumes such as lentils, beans, broad beans, chickpeas, and mashed beans.
Include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet
The consumption of fruits and vegetables increases the production of substances that minimize cholesterol. These substances are called stanols or plant sterols and act as soluble fiber.
Incorporate fish into your diet
Eating fish high in omega 3 fatty acids will help you raise your levels of good cholesterol. Additionally, this type of fat can serve as protection for the heart, preventing the formation of blood clots and inflammation, as well as reducing the probability of a heart attack.
Rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids are salmon, canned or fresh tuna, and mackerel.
Reduce salt intake
You should minimize salt intake in general terms. A low salt diet will not contribute to keeping cholesterol low, but it can reduce the risk of heart disease, helping to lower blood pressure.
Minimize alcohol consumption
Alcohol provides extra calories which can contribute to an increase in body weight. And being overweight, in turn, can raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, excess alcohol can also increase the risk of heart disease, since it raises blood pressure and triglycerides.
Include antioxidants in your diet
Several of the foods that help lower cholesterol contain high levels of antioxidants. These foods are sunflower, olive oil, wine, nuts, berries, some green vegetables, and orange or yellow fruits.
These foods prevent cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to the arteries, serving as excellent protection for our body.
You can complement a healthy and balanced diet with these actions:
- Get regular physical exercise. You can start with a smooth routine and gradually increase your exercise time.
- Drink water constantly. About eight glasses a day is the recommended measure.
- Visit the doctor frequently to keep track of your general health.
- If required, recover and maintain the proper weight.
Your health is very important, so you should do everything possible to take proper care of it. Follow these tips and keep your cholesterol low.