What is High cholesterol?
High cholesterol also called hypercholesterolemia is caused when the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is high and the level of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) is low as both of these reasons encourage the building up of fatty deposits in your blood vessels. These deposits can join with other substances to form thick and hard deposits inside your blood vessel making them narrow affecting the flow of blood in them causing health problems in your heart and brain. If this condition worsens and any of these narrowed blood vessels form a blood clot it can result in a heart attack, stroke which could be fatal.
What are the causes of High cholesterol?
Intake of fat in your diet: Your diet plays a major role in controlling your levels of cholesterol to manage your levels of cholesterol it is important to limit food that contains:
- Cholesterol: Besides its production from the liver it can also be obtained from meat and cheese.
- Saturated Fat (dietary fat): They are present in dairy products, chocolates, some meats, deep-fried, baked goods, and processed foods.
- Trans fats: They are present in deep-fried and processed foods.
- Overweight or inactivity: Being overweight or obese and lack of engagement in any physical activity can excessively increase the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in your blood.
- Genetics: Some genetic factors also contribute to high cholesterol. People with familial hypercholesterolemia tend to have very high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol).
Some other conditions that lead to high cholesterol are:
- Liver or Kidney diseases
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Pregnancy or any condition that excessively increases the level of female hormones
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Some drugs which increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol are progestin, corticosteroids, and anabolic steroids.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
A person with high cholesterol doesn’t show any signs and symptoms but a simple blood test reveals your levels of cholesterol.
What are the complications of high cholesterol?
• Coronary Artery Disease
• Chest Pain
• Heart Attack
• Peripheral Arterial Disease
• Chronic Kidney Disease
• Alzheimer’s Disease
How is high cholesterol is diagnosed?
It is highly recommended for men of 35 or above years and women of 45 or above years to have their cholesterol checked every two years. But if a person has a family history dealing with high cholesterol or takes certain that might disturb the level of good and bad cholesterol or have any other heart diseases or smoke should consult their doctors on how often they should get their cholesterol checked.
These are the desirable levels of LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides:
• LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dl
• HDL cholesterol: 60 or more mg/dl
• Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dl
If a person has total cholesterol between 200 and 239 it is considered “borderline high” and “high” when it is more than 240 mg/dl. Same as LDL cholesterol is considered “borderline high” when between 130 and 159, “high” if above 160, and “poor” when below 40mg/dl.
HOW TO LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL LEVELS NATURALLY?
Changes in lifestyles to lower your cholesterol:
Once diagnosed with high cholesterol you can adapt to these changes in your lifestyle as it will be helpful whether you are prescribed medication or not. If prescribed with medication, the effect of your cholesterol-lowering medication will be boosted if not these changes will manage your cholesterol level without medication. Some of the major lifestyle changes are:
1. Eat Heart-Healthy Foods: Diet plays an important role in managing your cholesterol levels as some food can increase them and some might help in balancing it. While following a diet some of the things should be considered:
• Reduction of saturated fats
• Eliminate trans fats
• Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
• Intake of soluble fiber
• Addition of Whey protein
2. Exercise: Exercise or any type of physical activity can help in increasing the levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Adding physical activity can help in losing weight even if you do it in short intervals throughout the day or for straight 30 minutes as it depends upon your physical ability and doctor’s approval. If exercise seems to bore you, you may consider:
• A quick walk around your block
• Riding bike
• Playing your favorite sport.
You will be more motivated and interested in doing it if you ask your friend or a family member to do it with you.
3. Quit Smoking: Smoking increase the level of LDL cholesterol. Quitting smoking may not seem easy but the benefits of quickly be seen such as:
• Within the first 20 minutes, your blood pressure and heart rate return back to normal.
• Within 3 months your blood circulation and lungs will start to heal and improve their functioning
• Within a year your risk of getting heart disease is half that of a smoker.
4. Lose weight: Even carrying a few extra pounds can contribute to high cholesterol. Take steps for controlling your craving, follow a diet filled with foods that will act favorable to high cholesterol, and engage in physical activities as they help a lot in losing weight.
5. Moderate Consumption of Alcohol: Moderate use of alcohol can help in increasing the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) but its effects are not strong enough to recommend someone who doesn’t drink. Moderation consumption of alcohol means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65 and two drinks for men younger than 65. Too much alcohol can lead to serious heart diseases such as stroke, blood pressure, and even heart failure.
Foods that can reduce the level of LDL cholesterol:
Making moderate changes in your diet can help in lowering your cholesterol levels and improving the armada of fats in your blood. Adding food that lower the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) to your diet is the best and one of the most effective ways to manage high cholesterol
Recommended foods for High Cholesterol:
Foods lower the level of LDL in various ways like some food deliver soluble fibers that restrain the LDL cholesterol and its precursors from the digestive system and force them out of the body before getting into the bloodstream or others gives polyunsaturated fats which also lower LDL and some contain plant sterols and stanols which refrain the body from absorbing cholesterol.
1. Oats: The most basic and easiest step is to add a bowl of oatmeal or cold-oatmeal cereal for breakfast. A bowl will give you about 1 to 2 grams of fiber but adding some strawberries and banana can add another gram.
2. Barley and other whole grains: Just like oat bran, barley and other whole grains can also help in lowering the LDL cholesterol as they deliver soluble fibers
3. Beans: Beans are enriched with soluble fiber. Bean is recommended for people who are struggling with being overweight as it takes a longer time to digest than other soluble fiber-enriched food giving the feeling of fullness for a longer period.
4. Nuts: A bunch of studies has shown that eating walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts are good for your heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts daily can lower LDL up to 5% and they also have other nutrients which protect the overall health of the heart.
5. Vegetable Oils: Replacing butter, lard with vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola, safflower, and others can help in lowering LDL. If replacing seems like a big and hard step shortening the quantity of it while cooking or on the table can be your starting steps.
6. Eggplant and okra: These two are low-calorie vegetables and high in soluble fibers.
7. Strawberries, apples, grapes, and citrus fruits: These fruits are rich in a type of soluble fiber known as pectin that plays a role in lowering the level of LDL cholesterol.
8. Soy: Soybeans were touted to be a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Recent analysis has shown that 25 grams of soy protein daily can lower up to 5% to 6% of LDL which is more modest than it was known before.
9. Fatty fish: Replacing meat with fish as meat has LDL-boosting saturated fats and fish tends to have LDL lowering omega-3 fats. Consuming fish two to three times a week can help in two ways as it will cut off a major LDL-boosting food and omega-3 helps in reducing triglycerides in your blood and avoiding any abnormal heart rhythms.
10. Food fortified with sterols and stanols: Sterols and stanols are extracted from plants which increase the ability of the body to absorb cholesterol. These are taken in a form of supplements and some brands also add them to different types of food from margarine to chocolate. Consuming up to 2 grams of plant extracted sterols and stanols can lower up to 10% of LLD cholesterol.
11. Fiber Supplements: Supplements can also offer you an appealing way of soluble fiber. Two teaspoons of psyllium daily and other forms of laxatives can provide you with up to 4 grams of soluble fiber.
The above-recommended changes of lifestyle and the food to add to your diet will help you to manage your cholesterol levels naturally without any medication. Sometimes the doctor will prescribe some medications but you should be consistent with these changes and diet as it will keep the dose of your prescribed low.
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