I hear a lot of people talk about cholesterol, some of them in fact don’t know what it is, they just know it’s something they heard is bad. I’ve even heard a few people mistake calories for cholesterol. So let’s clear this up right now. What is cholesterol and is it all bad for your health?
Cholesterol is essential to your wellbeing. It is a fatty-like waxy substance made in the liver. It is a key ingredient for growing new cells and powering certain hormones like testosterone and estrogen. It also helps in the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that controls your stress level and manages inflammation.
Cholesterol also helps heal and repair damaged tissue. This essential substance has also proven to be harmful when in excess quantity in the body.
The body naturally produces cholesterol but we also get it from the food we eat, especially dairy products and trans fat. There are two types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. (High-density lipoprotein and Low-density Lipoprotein)
Low-density lipoprotein LDL is known to be bad cholesterol because it builds up in the arteries, narrows them and reduces the quantity of blood that passes through. It can therefore cause heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
High-density lipoprotein HDL on the other hand is the good guy, it redirects the bad cholesterol back to the liver where it is repurposed and broken down for your body to use.
There’s no physical way of telling if someone has a high cholesterol level except through a blood test because there are no symptoms until a health challenge develops and at that point, it may be almost impossible to reverse the effect of high cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol can also be genetic, hence, it is inherited and can be passed down through families.
People with this type of cholesterol are at a higher risk of developing heart disease. However, most cases of high cholesterol are caused by bad food choices and unhealthy lifestyle habits but it can be prevented or controlled by making simple lifestyle changes.
-Risk factors of excess cholesterol
High levels of bad cholesterol can lead to stroke, heart attacks and chest pain. You could also be at risk if you: smoke, suffering from diabetic, live sedentary lifestyle, aged, have bad diet and obesity.
-How to reduce bad cholesterol level
Start eating right: begin to make smart food choices because what goes into your body is very important and no matter the intensity of exercise you do, 70% of what you eat is responsible for a healthy lifestyle. Reduce the intake of saturated fat and focus on more unsaturated fat. Foods with Unsaturated fat include: vegetables,
beans and legumes, garlic, turmeric and spices, avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds etc.
Avoid processed and packaged food as well as packaged drinks: Alcohol and inorganic dairy products, refined grains, processed meat. Endeavour to always read labels when you buy things because some products may have ‘whole’ or ‘organic’ and natural on the product description but the content and nutritional value may not be anything close to organic. If you are aiming for a healthy diet, make sure to check the content and nutritional value of each product you buy.
Reduce your fat intake: you may make a deliberate effort to eat less processed food and avoid pastries and all that kind of stuff but the way you cook your healthy meals and prepare your salads may still be bad, the kind of cooking oil; vegetable oil, soya oil, groundnut oil or whatever oil you use even palm oil, they contain a good quantity of cholesterol so, make sure not to use a lot of it while cooking. Salads are great for healthy living but the salad dressing mayonnaise, salad cream etc most of the time contains a lot of sodium and other fatty ingredients that your body doesn’t need in large quantities. So, Go for salad dressings with low fat or better still, learn how to make your mayonnaise at home so that you can decide what ingredients you want to add to it.
Reduce excessive frying and roasting; lots of frying and roasting tends to increase the fat content in foods, that’s why boiled potatoes and fried potatoes have different caloric values. Fried foods are always sweeter and even more attractive. Fried peppered chicken and boiled chicken, which one are you likely to pick? I know your pick, but if it has to do with your health and wellbeing then it’s gotta go. It’s hard to completely cut it off but aim to reduce it until you can do without it or better still you can air fry, steam or grill, as they are healthier alternatives for you.
Start moving: sitting too much and moving less is known to be a risk factor for some diseases especially cardiovascular disease. In a bid to reduce your cholesterol level or maintain it, you need to get physically active. It is said that standing and moving more can reduce your triglyceride and increase your HDL level, the good cholesterol.
Doctors recommend more intense exercises like HIITs to reduce triglyceride and LDL Levels. The exercises don’t have to be so long but keep it consistent to at least three times a week to as much as six times a week. a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week
Eat more soluble fibre: according to Verywellheath, soluble fibre lowers cholesterol by binding to it in the small intestine. Once inside the small intestine, the fibre attaches to the cholesterol particles, preventing them from entering your bloodstream and travelling to other parts of the body. Instead, cholesterol will exit the body through the faeces. It is recommended that adults should consume about 30 grams of fibre per day. Checkout foods that are rich in fibre, whole wheat, beans, peas, lentils, oats etc . You can also get fibre supplements if you are not eating enough.
Your liver naturally produces good cholesterol but if you constantly consume unhealthy fatty food and unhealthy cholesterol, your liver will reduce the amount of good cholesterol it produces, leaving you with high unhealthy cholesterol. High Cholesterol is bad but these home remedies will work for a good number of people. There are some others whose cholesterol is steadily on the rise, they may have to work with their doctors on this. There are several medications that your doctor will prescribe for you and in a short while you will have a normal/low level. Know that living a healthy lifestyle not only keeps your cholesterol level healthy, it also makes your general health and wellbeing perfect.