What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance present in all the cells of your body. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods of animal origin, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese.
What causes high cholesterol?
The most common cause of high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle. This may include:
• Unhealthy eating habits, like eating lots of bad fats. One type, saturated fat, is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and fried and processed foods. Another type, trans fats, is found in some fried and processed foods. Eating these fats can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol.
• Lack of physical activity, with a lot of sitting and little exercise. This lowers your (good) HDL cholesterol.
• Tobacco, which lowers HDL cholesterol, especially in women? It also increases LDL cholesterol.
What can increase my risk of high cholesterol?
Various factors can increase the risk of hypercholesterolemia:
• Age. Your cholesterol level tends to increase with age. Although less common, younger people, including children and teenagers, can also have high cholesterol.
• Legacy. Hypercholesterolemia can be hereditary.
• Lester. Being overweight or obese raises your cholesterol levels.
• Race. Certain breeds may have a higher risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans generally have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
How can I lower my cholesterol?
You can lower cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes. They understand a
• heart-healthy diet
• weight control,
• Regular physical activity.
How can I lower cholesterol with a diet?
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a cholesterol-lowering diet. The DASH DIET is an example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Diet, which recommends you
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, like lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods containing cholesterol. If you are looking to lower your cholesterol, you should consume less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day. Cholesterol is found in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and dairy products made from whole milk.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods rich in soluble fiber help prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the digestive tract. These foods include:
• Whole grains like rolled oats and oat bran
• Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears and plums
• Vegetables like beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lima beans
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in the diet. These compounds, called stenos or plant sterols, function like soluble fibers.
Eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids will not lower LDL levels, but they can help raise HDL levels. They can also protect the heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds (canned or fresh), and mackerel. Try to eat these fish twice a week.
Limit the salt. You should try to limit the amount of sodium (salt) you consume to no more than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon of salt) per day.
You can reduce your sodium intake by choosing foods and condiments that are low in salt and "no salt added" at the table or during cooking.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight can raise your LDL level and lower your HDL level. A drink is a glass of wine, beer or a small number of spirits and the recommendation is that:
• Men should not drink more than two glasses a day
• Women should not drink more than one drink containing alcohol per day.