Cholesterol is a vital component of a healthy body, helping to synthesize hormones, bile acids, and cell membranes. However, high cholesterol levels in the blood might block the arteries, which elevates your risks of heart attack and hypertension. High cholesterol is attributed mainly to our lifestyle habits, that is, what we consume and how active or inactive we are. Reducing the levels calls for slight changes in our lifestyle habits. So, which approaches can you take to prevent high cholesterol?
Increase Physical activity
To grasp how physical activity affects cholesterol, we must first understand how it accumulates in the blood. Cholesterol is transported in the blood by a lipoprotein, a substance whose structure is made of proteins and cholesterol. There are two types of lipoproteins, High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
LDL cholesterol, commonly known as bad cholesterol, builds up in the walls of blood vessels, while HDL does not. Regular exercise will not only help in maintaining body weight. It will help move LDL cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is broken down and excreted. In your free time, dare to do an activity that gets your heart pumping fast. You can dance, ride a bike, take a walk, jog, or play an outdoor sport but try to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, as recommended by the NHS.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol and Smoking
Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption lowers your HDL cholesterol and raises your LDL cholesterol, thus putting you at risk of heart-related diseases.
Eat Healthy Diets
Total cholesterol levels in the body are influenced primarily by the foods we consume. Below is an outline of some of the most important foods to avoid, as well as those that are beneficial.
• Avoid Saturated Fats and Trans Fats
Trans fats and saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol. Saturated fats are found in unskimmed dairy and red meat products, while trans fats are in high caloric density foods like cakes, pizzas, margarine, and cheap vegetable oils. The United States nutrition guidelines stipulate that trans fats should be below 1%, and saturated fats below 10%, in a healthy diet.
• Consumer More Soluble Fiber
A 2017 clinical study noted that the consumption of soluble fibers from an oat diet lowered both total and LDL cholesterol. Soluble fibers prevent the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream by binding with it. This food category is high in breakfast cereals, citrus fruits, brown rice, pulses, nuts, and seeds.
• Consume Whey Protein
A 12-week study by the National Library of Medicine noted a reduction in LDL and total cholesterol after consumption of 54g of whey protein. Whey protein is found primarily in dairy milk and in dairy products like cheese and yogurt. You can, however, obtain it as a supplement powder in chemists and food chain stores.
• Reduce Consumption Of Foods High In Sugar
The link between sugar and cholesterol is not clear, according to many nutritional studies. However, one cohort study showed that individuals who consumed high levels of sugar in their diets had lower levels of HDL cholesterol compared to those who consumed lower levels.
The most common drugs prescribed for lowering LDL and total cholesterol are statins, bile acid resins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, fibrates, and niacin. Statins decelerate the synthesis of LDL cholesterol. On the other hand, bile acid resins bind with bile, preventing its absorption into the bloodstream. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors inhibit the absorption of cholesterol, as the name suggests.
It would be advisable to take a cholesterol test after every four to five years. According to the United States nutrition guidelines, LDL cholesterol levels should be below 100mg/dl. A range of 100 to 129mg/dl is acceptable. Levels higher than this are considered high or borderline high.