Most of us think cholesterol as a whole is bad, but that’s not the case! We need it moderate amounts of cholesterol for many functions in the body. There are two levels of cholesterol that we need to pay attention to. HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is the good cholesterol and the one we should keep it at high levels. And the LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is the bad one, which we must focus more on to maintain it at the lowest levels possible. Also the triglycerides are a type of fat that, along with high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol, will affect your health negatively. The kinds of fats that raise your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels are saturated fats and trans fats in food.
When we talk about high cholesterol, we are referring mainly to LDL cholesterol. Too much of it can create a build-up, called plaque, in the arteries and resulting in blockage. This can make it harder for blood to circulate properly. If your blood circulation slows down, the rest of your body won’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function, increasing your risks for heart diseases and other diseases. In worst cases, the arteries can get completely blocked and cause a heart attack and even death. High levels of cholesterol in the blood has been proved to cause heart diseases.
According to the National Heart and Lung Institute, heart disease is the #1 killer in men and women. More than a million of people have heart attacks every year and about half die because of a heart disease. High levels of LDL cholesterol are the main cause for heart diseases, and as you grow older, your cholesterol levels will more than likely increase. But fortunately, there are many ways you can avoid having high levels cholesterol.
Here are the top 10 ways to help you avoid high cholesterol levels:
- Stay active – Exercising most days a week and maintaining your body moving in most part of a day is essential in having an active lifestyle. Engaging in physical activity will lower your LDL cholesterol and raise you HDL cholesterol. You want your blood to circulate smoothly without anything building up along the walls to block your arteries.
- Avoid fatty foods – Saturated fats and trans fats in foods are the most responsible for raising your cholesterol levels in your blood. Cutting down the amounts of saturated fat in your food will definitely help lowering your cholesterol. Foods with low saturated fat are fat-free or 1% in dairy foods, lean meats, skinless poultry and fish. Aim for soft margarines since some have little or no trans fat. Avoid fried food, and cakes mostly, they are high in trans fats. Cholesterol in food is important too, so try to cut those amounts too. Try to limit eating liver and some organ meats because they are high in cholesterol, as well as whole (full-fat) dairy foods.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables – They are naturally low in fat and high in soluble fiber. They can help maintain a healthy body weight and a less fat percentage in you body. Soluble fiber is crucial to your body and it has been shown to keep your cholesterol under control. Jennifer Moll, a cholesterol expert, says that spinach has cholesterol friendly properties.
- Pull out the yolks – Yolks in eggs are high in cholesterol, buy they are also nutritious. When eating eggs try pulling them out half of the time. Eating the egg whites is very nutritious too and cholesterol-free.
- Include more nuts and whole grains in your meals – Whole grain foods are good sources of fiber. Nuts have good fats. They both help raise you HDL cholesterol level while lowering the bad one (LDL). Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, oats, lentils, beans are great to lower cholesterol.
- Keep a healthy weight – Being overweight often means that you have extra mass in your body that you don’t need, it usually is excess of fat. Having extra fat in you body will increase your cholesterol. To make your sure you are within the range of a healthy weight, have your doctor check our BMI (Body Mass Index).
- Check your levels – The National Heart and Lung Institute advises checking your cholesterol at least once every 5 years. Aim for less than 200mg/dL of your total cholesterol and less than 100mg/dL of your LDL levels.
- Maintain normal blood pressure – Hypertension (high blood pressure) happens when your arteries stretch beyond what is healthy, so they can get damaged and small tears. The American Heart Association states that build-ups from cholesterol happens where the arteries are affected or damaged. So make sure you maintain a Healthy blood pressure by primarily not exceeding the salt in your diet.
- Quit smoking – Cigarette smoking is known to increase artery thickness, therefore narrowing the arteries and essentially damaging the blood vessels and making it difficult for blood to flow to and from the heart and body.
- Limit your alcohol intake – Drinking too much alcohol will raise your cholesterol levels and harm your blood vessels. The American Heart Association Although agreed that moderate amounts (about 1 glass) have been shown to help raise your HDL cholesterol.
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