Cholesterol is an essential component of metabolic processes in the body. It is needed for the flexibility of cellular walls and for producing hormones in the body. Only when there is too much of it in the body, it spells trouble. Cholesterol plaques the arteries and is the primary cause of heart disease in the world. But there is no cause for worry. Even if you have been living a very unhealthy lifestyle, if you make small changes now, you could scale back the cholesterol levels in your body.
Here are 6 Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
1. Eating Right
There is a lot of changes that you can make in your diet to have a healthy heart and to lower cholesterol.
- Healthy Fats: Choose olive oil over margarine. Saturated fats are responsible for total cholesterol and LDL in the body. Just making this small change will show good results.
- Zero Trans Fats: Trans fats increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. This makes you vulnerable to heart disease. Fried foods, commercially baked goodies, refined oil and all processed foods contain trans fats. Remove these from your diet entirely for a healthy body.
- Increase Omega-3 In Diet: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce LDL and increase HDL in the body and decrease triglycerides in the body. Triglycerides are responsible for all heart problems. Walnuts, ground flaxseeds and almonds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Soluble Fibre: Make soluble fibre a part of your daily diet. Psyllium husk or isabgol is a great option. It will clean out your gut, increase the probiotics in your body and reduce cholesterol. Lentils, oats, beans, whole grains and fruits are other good food choices.
2. Increase Physical Activity
Work out for a minimum of 30 minutes daily is essential to lower cholesterol. Exercising helps to reduce LDL and increases HDL. Apart from improving your physical fitness, it is beneficial for the heart. Even ten minutes of walking done in two or three sessions during the day can show positive results.
3. Stop Smoking
Smoking is injurious to health as it changes the manner in which the body responds to cholesterol. Tobacco tar leads to quicker storage of cholesterol in the arteries. Quitting smoking has shown to reverse the effects.
4. Weight Management
Losing even five kilos has shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the body by 8%. Snack healthy, eat six small meals a day and exercise to lose weight. Observe what is sabotaging your weight loss plans and work on those aspects.
5. Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can put a lot of stress on your heart. Drink in moderation to avoid the build-up of cholesterol.
Stress and cholesterol are closely linked. Learn not to sweat the small stuff. Meditate, do yoga or read a book to chill out.
Effect of Untreated High-Cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to many serious and long term medical issues, especially if it is not treated and managed well. These issues can include:
- Higher amounts of fat deposits begin accumulating in your blood vessels. This builds up ‘plaque’ which causes obstructions and blockages
- Poor blood vessels that are hardened and narrowed with plaque can result in making the heart pump harder to do its job, which leads to high blood pressure
- Another potential effect of untreated high cholesterol is coronary artery disease which can cause chest pains
- Heart attack and stroke are also possible with your cholesterol is left unchecked, the build-up of plaque can lead to blockages in the blood vessels that supply the heart with fresh blood
Sometimes, just making lifestyle changes might not be enough. Consult your doctor and take your medication regularly to avoid complications.