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Cholesterol is an organic compound found in some foods and is also produced in our body by the liver. It is a waxy, fat-like substance, which is required by our body in the production of cell membranes, vitamin D, and bile products that help in digestion. It is measured as milligram per decilitre (mg/dL).
Cholesterol is of two types: low-density cholesterol (LDC) and high-density cholesterol (HDL). They are generally referred to as bad and good cholesterol, respectively. Just like any other compound, too much of cholesterol running in your bloodstream does more harm than any good.
High levels of cholesterol tend to block arteries increasing the risk of heart attack and other heart diseases. Therefore, it is important to maintain the required level of cholesterol in our body by following a few habits in our daily lives.
Know Your Food
Know the nutritional fact about the food you are eating. In order to maintain the cholesterol level in your body, include fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible in your diet. Add nuts to your diet. These foods are rich in soluble fibre that help in eliminating the bad cholesterol from the body. Some of the vegetables such as tomato also contain lycopene that also helps in breaking down cholesterol.
Trans-fats are the unsaturated fats that are produced by the process of hydrogenation. Trans-fats create the dangerous combination of high level of bad cholesterol and low level of good cholesterol in the body. These are present in most of the fried and processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, meat, fried chips, and like products.
Though many packaging companies mention "trans-fat free" label on their food items, they still contain certain levels of trans-fats. Therefore, the best way is to go for home-cooked food over processed food.
Switch To Unsaturated Fat
To fight against the high levels of cholesterol, you need not completely cut down on fat; instead, you can switch to unsaturated fat and limit the consumption of saturated fat. Fats that are solid or semi-solid at room temperature are the saturated fats. Thus, you can use olive oil over butter or cheese. Similarly, peanut, avocado, and canola oil may also be used for cooking.
Consume Fibre And Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Our digestive system might not digest the fibre but it is required by the good bacteria of our body that eliminates the bad cholesterol from the body. Oats, oat brans, lentils, and beans are good sources of fibre. Similarly, omega 3 fatty acids are not able to eliminate LDC but these increase the amount of HDC in the blood. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids along with walnuts, flax seeds, and almonds.
Indulging in a few minutes of exercise every day can do wonders in case you have high cholesterol. Even moderate exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, and cycling raise the level of HDC in the blood. Studies have shown that people who included 30 minutes of workout for at least five days in a week were able to cut down on the bad cholesterol within few months only.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
The calories consumed by our body not only add to the weight of the body but also raise the levels of bad cholesterol. In case you are overweight with high levels of cholesterol, cut down on your weight by combining dieting and exercising. Cutting down on weight decreases the production of new LDC in the body while increasing the HDC, which is a win-win situation in the battle against cholesterol.
Tobacco tar which is present in the cigarettes changes the way the body treats the cholesterol. It disables the immune cells to return blood back to the liver. This leads to the blockage in arteries and increased levels of bad cholesterol. Even passive smoking causes this condition. Therefore, if you smoke, quit it for the sake of your health and those around you.
Consume Alcohol Occasionally
If you drink alcohol then consume it occasionally. Alcohol has been linked with the increased level of good cholesterol but only in moderate quantity. One to two drinks in a day is considered as permissible quantity but more than that not only adds to the bad cholesterol but also causes other health problems such as stroke, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.