Lower cholesterol is something that most of us should strive for. High cholesterol levels are slowly killing off our population. The increasing prevalence and risk of hypertension and heart disease among Americans is ringing alarm bells throughout the health sector. Health officials are desperately trying to find ways to combat the rise and make people aware of the risks and the solutions.
The truth about cholesterol
Although cholesterol is the main culprit in high blood pressure in the body, not all cholesterol that we take in is essentially bad. In fact, small amounts of cholesterol are required by the body for the production of bile salts and the transformation of Vitamin D. Cholesterol also plays a role in correct hormonal balance, especially in women.
There are two kinds of cholesterol, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ as the general population tends to call them. The bad cholesterol or LDL is the kind that is found in saturated fats and trans fatty acids. These are often taken into the body from pre-packed and fast foods. LDL cholesterol sticks to the walls of the arteries. High levels of LDL can form plaques in the artery walls that can eventually cause clogging. This slows down the blood flow, which in turn makes it harder for the heart to pump. This scenario describes the beginning stages of hypertension and coronary heart problems.
What to eat
Good cholesterol, HDL, on the other hand, actually lowers the levels of LDL in the body by helping transport the LDL to the liver where it is excreted. HDL cholesterol can be found in fish as well as in nuts.
Other foods that can lower cholesterol levels are fruits and vegetables. These foods do not contain much cholesterol at all so whatever you have, you will not be adding to it.
Another great thing about vegetables and fruits is the fact that they are great sources of the fiber that the body also needs to combat the increase in LDL cholesterol. Berries, citrus fruits and carrots are just some examples.
Another food that appears to dramatically reduce the levels of cholesterol in the body is soya. Fiber-rich food, soya, almonds and plant sterols figure in a landmark study conducted by University of Toronto that reduced the cholesterol levels of the participants by as much as 20 percent. Eating oats, olive oil and barley can also be great ways to lower LDL.
A significant source of cholesterol are foods that are very oily. To lower your LDL, you should consciously avoid foods that are deep-fried. If you have to eat fried foods, make sure that vegetable oil is used. Never use butter as this is rich in saturated fats. Instead, use margarine as a substitute. Try to also steam, braise, boil or bake your food. You will find that they are tastier and healthier that way.
It’s not just about food
Many factors contribute to the rise of cholesterol levels in the body. As well as a person’s eating habits, there is age, gender, family history and of course the amount of physical exercise that the person takes. Exercise is important in keeping LDL cholesterol at bay. What is more, it strengthens the body’s resistance as well as improving blood circulation, so that even if levels are high, the most serious consequences may be avoided. If you have high LDL levels, you should look at changing your diet and gradually increasing your activity levels to lower cholesterol in your body.