Cholesterol is a substance the body needs for performing some important functions. The body gets cholesterol from two sources i.e liver and from foods you eat. The cholesterol problem occurs when the body receives more than the required amount of cholesterol. This extra cholesterol comes from our dietary habits that are high in saturated and trans fats.
Types of cholesterol
There are three types of cholesterol –
LDL – low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol
HDL – high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol
Why high cholesterol level is a concern?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that circulates in the blood. When its level in the blood increases, it becomes a threat to your health. Blood travels to the heart and then it is sent to all the body parts. With a high level of cholesterol in the blood, it deposits on the inner lining of blood vessels. This contributes to the risk of various heart problems and may affect the brain as well.
High cholesterol level is a major cause of heart problems and the risk doubles with wrong lifestyle, health condition, and food habits. Hence, it is extremely important to keep a check on your cholesterol level and take the possible measures to manage it. A routine blood test reflects the cholesterol level in your body. We shall discuss here some natural ways that can help you lower cholesterol.
Natural methods to lower cholesterol
Fortunately, high cholesterol levels can be managed and in most cases, heart disease can be prevented. If your blood test report comes with a high cholesterol level, your doctor may recommend healthy foods and lifestyles along with certain medications.
The choice of foods you make can hugely impact your health. The lifestyle you follow has a significant effect on the normal functioning of organs, muscles, and tissues. Let us introduce you to some of the natural and effective methods to lower cholesterol levels.
Making a healthy choice is no wonder the only way to a healthy body. We all have heard it many times and most of us fail to follow unless the body gives the alarm. So here is the list of foods that can help you lower your cholesterol level.
Choose healthy fats
Think before adding fats to your plate. While picking up the grocery look for foods that contain healthy fats i.e monosaturated and polyunsaturated. Foods such as almonds, walnuts, fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, olive oil, etc include healthy fats.
Also, limit the intake of foods containing saturated fats. People who eat too much non-vegetarian (except fatty fish) foods, butter, full-fat dairy products, etc are at higher risk of developing high cholesterol levels. Limiting such foods can help decrease high cholesterol levels.
Trans fats are commonly found in packaged foods. These fats can worsen your cholesterol level and may cause inflammation of blood vessels, making the body vulnerable to a heart attack. Eliminating trans fats can help prevent and lower cholesterol levels.
Plant-based foods are the best
As discussed above, non-vegetarian foods can have a negative effect on cholesterol. Plant-based foods such as beans, green leafy vegetables, and legumes are full of protein and lower cholesterol levels.
Such foods are rich in fiber and easy for the body to digest. They contain soluble and insoluble fiber that favors decreasing cholesterol and maintaining digestive health respectively.
Soy products like tofu, and soy milk can help lower cholesterol levels.
2. Stress management
Stress is one of the major reasons for various health conditions which also include high cholesterol levels. Chronic stress or acute stress increases blood pressure and heart rate. This can cause heart attack and stroke. Let not stress get you.
Some of the ways to manage stress include healthy eating habits, staying active, meditation, socializing with others, getting good sleep, seeking counseling, etc can help manage stress and tension.
3. Quit smoking and limit alcohol
There are many health hazards associated with smoking and high cholesterol level is one of them. Smoking doubles the risk of heart problems in people who have a high level of cholesterol. Smoking increases bad cholesterol and decreases good cholesterol.
You may try nicotine replacement, counseling, medication, support from groups or peers, etc. These things can help you quit smoking.
Alcohol consumption can increase the level of triglycerides (a type of cholesterol). When a high triglyceride is accompanied by a high level of bad cholesterol it increases your risk of heart problems. You are more like to develop high blood pressure.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Keeping yourself active can reduce cholesterol levels. It also helps maintain ideal weight and supports weight loss. Being overweight and obese raises cholesterol levels. Even moderate weight loss can significantly improve cholesterol levels. Staying active when accompanied by healthy food habits helps reduce cholesterol.
5. Drink enough water
Drinking water can indirectly affect cholesterol reduction. Often your brain may get confused between hunger and thirst, this can make you grab unhealthy foods. Staying hydrated can help you prevent false hunger and keep you away from fatty foods.
6. Home remedies to lower cholesterol
Indian kitchens have a remedy to so many health problems and high cholesterol management is one amongst many. Water infused with coriander seeds, turmeric, amla, green tea, herbal tea, flaxseeds, etc help lower high cholesterol level and improve heart health.
Foods that can lower cholesterol level
Given below are some of the foods that you can add to your routine diet that can help reduce cholesterol levels. Okra, eggplants, broccoli, okra, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, grapes, oranges, berries, olives, oats, spinach, etc can help decrease bad cholesterol.
With the change in diet and lifestyle, you can easily decrease your cholesterol level and improve your heart health. Being consistent with your dietary habits, eating the right food at right time, and following the above tips can make a lot of difference in the cholesterol level and support a healthy heart.