Do you ever think why is maintaining cholesterol levels important? Basically, cholesterol is a waxy and fat-like substance that is produced by the liver. Although, the liver naturally produces all of the cholesterol that the body needs. But, it is found in abundance in animal-based foods. Cholesterol plays a vital role in regulating several bodily functions. However, high cholesterol levels cannot be good for your body and result in some health problems. Unhealthy lifestyle choices is one of the most common causes of high cholesterol issues. But, genetic factor and some medical conditions and medications can also be a reason for high cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol does not cause any specific set of symptoms, but it can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Doctors can also suggest you to take supplements to balance the cholesterol levels. To lower a person’s cholesterol levels, there are some medications available but it can have side effects such as headaches, muscle cramps, and nausea. Having too much cholesterol in the body can increase the risk of many health effects, but the body also needs cholesterol to build cell membranes, to produce sex hormones, Vitamin D and bile acids, which helps the body in digesting fats. Some foods contain cholesterol and there are certain foods that can can trigger the liver to produce more cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can result in fatty deposits on the walls of arteries, which is not good for your heart. Through this article, you will get to know about some natural ways to lower cholesterol levels.
How to lower cholesterol?
As mentioned above, the liver produces as much cholesterol as the body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in very low-density lipoproteins. Although, there are many products that advertise claiming low cholesterol foods, but dietary cholesterol only plays a small role in making up the amount of cholesterol in the body. This is because the liver changes the amount of cholesterol depending on how much you eat. When your body absorbs more cholesterol from your diet, it makes less in the liver. So, here are 7 natural ways to lower cholesterol levels:
1. Daily exercise
Daily exercise should be an important part of your lifestyle as it helps in regulating a lot of functions in your body, along with choosing a healthy diet. You should try and engage in atleast one type of exercise such as running, walking, swimming, cardio, yoga or even dancing. Keeping yourself active can play a major role in influencing your body's cholesterol levels. Having a habit of exercising everyday is a win-win situation for your overall health as well as skin. Improving physical fitness can help in overcoming obesity and also reducing harmful LDL cholesterol and increasing good HDL cholesterol. In fact, even low intensity exercises can help in increasing HDL levels in the body.
2. Avoid trans fats
Trans fats are basically unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process known as hydrogenation. This is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable as an ingredient. Many food manufacturers use trans fats because they are affordable and long-lasting as compared to others. Main sources of trans fats include fried foods, some prepackaged or processed foods, etc. Cheese, milk, and other dairy products have relatively less amounts of natural trans fats. You should try and avoid trans fats as they directly impact the harmful cholesterol in the body. Even if you are consuming those foods, it should only be done in small quantities.
Also read: How to lower your cholesterol
3. Restrict alcohol and smoking
Smoking cigarettes and taking alcohol regularly are harmful habits that can have a deep negative impact on many main organs of your body, along with disturbing your cholesterol levels. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease in a lot of ways. It can directly change how the body manages cholesterol levels. Smoking makes the immune cells weak and they are unable to return cholesterol from vessel walls to the blood for carrying to the liver. This damage is due to the high amount of tobacco. When used in moderation, the ethanol in alcoholic drinks increases HDL and reduces the risk of heart disease. If moderate can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, excess alcohol can damage the liver and make you addicted to it. Therefore, you should also avoid smoking and taking alcohol.
4. Eat more monounsaturated fats
A diet that is high in monounsaturated fats reduces harmful LDL cholesterol in the body and also increases the levels of healthy HDL. Foods that have good amounts of monounsaturated fats can reduce harmful oxidation and are beneficial for your overall health as well. Best sources of these days are olive oil, olives, avocado, almonds and canola oil. You can easily find these food items in the market and online.
5. Maintain optimum weight
Obesity leads to many health problems including heart disease and high bad cholesterol levels in the body. Being overweight is not at all good for your body. Maintaining an optimum weight can also keep the cholesterol levels balanced. If you are obese, then there is a need to lose weight in order to manage the cholesterol. If you exercise regularly and consume a healthy diet, then you can reach your goal weight in no time. Diet plays a major role in producing and observing cholesterol. And if you take care of your diet, it will help in reducing weight, thus lowering the cholesterol levels in the body. Overall, weight loss has an added benefit on cholesterol levels by increasing good HDL and decreasing bad LDL.
6. Eat soluble fiber
Another natural way to lower cholesterol levels in the body is by eating soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is a group of different compounds in plants that dissolve in water and human cannot digest. But, the beneficial bacteria that lives in your intestines has the ability to digest soluble fiber. Moreover, they need it for their own nutrition. These good bacteria, also known as probiotics, reduce both harmful lipoproteins, LDL and VLDL. Soluble fiber can also help in increasing the cholesterol benefits of taking some medications. Some of the best sources of soluble fiber are beans, peas, lentils, fruit, oats and whole grains.
7. Consume Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an important nutrient is specifically found in fish. It is not only beneficial for overall human health but can also contribute towards balancing cholesterol levels in the body. Omega 3 fatty acids help in reducing inflammation and also improve brain function as well. But, having omega-3 through fish oil can also help in improving your bone density. This nutrient is found in high amounts in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, halibut and sardines. Taking a fish oil supplement is also another way to to consume Omega-3. Polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids are also known for heart health and reduce bad LDL cholesterol. Do not take peanuts as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Therefore, cholesterol has an influence on performing important functions of the body, but can also be a major cause behind clogged arteries and heart problems, when there is too much of it in the body. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is prone to free radical damage and contributes most to heart disease. On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) prevents heart problems by transporting cholesterol away from vessel walls and back to the liver. If your cholesterol level is not balanced, some lifestyle changes can bring positive results in managing the levels.
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