Some time, a moment will come in your life when cholesterol will be detected in your blood. However, there is nothing to worry about. Not all types of cholesterol are worrisome. But the word is so disturbing that people get concerned upon hearing it. Hence, Earth’s Wisdom wants to divulge some important facts about cholesterol that will console you.
Cholesterol is fat-like substance that's found in all the cells in your body. It’s produced in the liver and can be obtained through foods. However, it’s not present in plants; so, you can get it only through animal foods like dairy and meat.
Cholesterol is of two types: LDL and HDL which are compounds of protein and fat also known as lipoproteins.
Cholesterol is required because:
LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein is actually the type of cholesterol you should worry about because it increases the risk of heart attack. The LDL cholesterol is produced in your body. However, in some people, it is produced more than needed due to genetic predisposition. Cholesterol levels rise with age.
LDL rises due to some other factors too, such as eating a diet loaded with processed foods and saturated fats, being overweight and doing limited physical activity.
Although having low LDL levels is good, your body needs some cholesterol for proper functioning. LDL should ideally be less than 100mg per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood.
High-Density Lipoprotein or HDL, on the other hand, is the good type of cholesterol because it can protect you from heart disease to some extent.
HDL helps body to get rid of LDL and don’t let it collect on the linings of arteries. When LDL collects on arterial lining, it can cause fatal events like heart attack or stroke.
If you have lower HDL levels, it doesn’t seem to be problematic directly. But it shows that the person has an overall unhealthy lifestyle. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that HDL of 60mg/dL or higher is protective and 40mg/dL or less is a risk factor for heart disease.
Regular Exercise: Getting physical activity for 30 minutes 5 times a week can improve HDL and lower LDL and triglycerides. They activity should raise your heart rate. They include brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rollerblading, etc.
Quitting Smoking: Smoking reduces HDL cholesterol which tends to damage blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease.
Healthy Foods: As recommended by the American Heart Association, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, beans and lean proteins like fish, poultry and soy are healthy foods. Your diet should contain sugar, salt, trans fats, saturated fats and red meat only in small quantities. You should also increase the intake of healthy fats like mono- and poly-unsaturated fats (olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and pecans) and canola oil), especially omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, salmon, deep sea tuna, herring and to some extent in shellfish like shrimp).
Increase Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber is a set of different plant compounds that dissolve in water and cannot be digested by humans. However the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in our gut require it for survival. Probiotics reduce both bad cholesterols, LDL as well as VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein).
Lose Weight: Weight loss reduces LDL and increases HDL.
Try Plant Stanols and Sterols: These two compounds are plant versions of cholesterol. Since they look similar to cholesterol, they are absorbed from the diet. However, they don’t cause clogging of arteries. By competing with human cholesterols they reduce their levels by replacing their absorption.
As you know now that not all cholesterols are bad and some of them are beneficial and essential for our health, you can make better choices of lifestyle habits and live a healthy life.
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