Cholesterol is a lipid found in the cell membranes of all body tissues. It is a soft, white fat-like substance made in the liver. All animals and humans have cholesterol in their blood. They cannot survive without it. Cholesterol is produced in the body, but about 15 to 20 per cent is supplemented from the diet.

There are two types of cholesterol – Good Cholesterol(HDL) and Bad Cholesterol(LDL). HDL protects against heart attack. Low HDL is associated with a substantial risk of heart attack, even if the total cholesterol level is not high. LDL is what gets deposited inside the arteries. Maintaining a low LDL level is the best insurance against a heart attack and stroke.

High cholesterol is a major cause for heart ailments among youngsters. Health problems arise when there is too much total cholesterol in the blood, which prevents it from moving freely through the arteries. High cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack, but it is not a killer by itself. It could be lethal when accompanied by a bad diet, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Here are some tips that may help you to lower your cholesterol level.

1. Regular exercise

Regular exercise is the most important step in regulating cholesterol levels. Some doctors prescribe a walk for 30 minutes, every day. Exercise burns extra fat which is metabolized.

2. Maintain weight

Increase physical activity and reduce caloric intake in a systematic manner. Body mass index and height decide your ideal weight. The focus should be on managing the weight, not looking slim.

3. Avoid saturated fat

Cholesterol comes from food like animal fats, meat, eggs and shell fish. Foods high in saturated fat include whole milk, milk products, bakery products, ghee, vanaspati, coconut oil, butter etc. Substitute whole milk with skimmed milk or cow's milk, and fried food with baked or steamed food. Do not consume more than 15 ml oil every day.

4. Eat vegetables and fruits

Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables cleanse the body of toxic substances. Fiber aids digestion. Fruit juice may not help, for juice lacks fiber. Substitute ice creams with frozen fruit-based dessert. Garlic helps in lowering cholesterol.

5. Stop smoking, drinking

Smoking leads to fat deposit in the inner walls of the blood vessels which gradually narrow and reduce the blood supply to the organ. Excessive drinking can damage the liver, where fat metabolism takes place.

6. Reduce salt

Avoid extra salt in your diet. This means avoid pickles, papad, baked beans, canned soups and processed foods. Try not sprinkle salt on your food, reduce the quantity of salt when you cook, try to cook from scratch. Cutting down your slat intake can reduce your risk of health problems.

7. Low-cholesterol diet

The body makes the cholesterol it needs. So choose foods like grain products that have less cholesterol. Eat nuts; almonds and walnuts are the best. Reduce intake of fats and sugars.

8. Consume isabgol

Isabgol is a natural vegetable product obtained from the seeds of a plant called Psyllium by milling. It provides a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers. Insoluble fibers increase the bulk of food within the intestine, aiding the contraction of the intestine.

9. Eat frequent, smaller meals

Eating large meals tends to cause fat to deposit. The body is able to digest small meals faster. The changes in your meal pattern can have a positive impact on your weight and cholesterol.

10. Blood tests

If you are above 30 and have blood pressure, get a blood test to determine cholesterol levels, every three months. If healthy, go for a test every two years.

The first wealth is health. If you are healthy, you will get everything in your life. So empower yourself and your health.