What is Cholesterol and How to Control it
Cholesterol is a lipid produced by the liver and found in all parts of the body; this fatty substance is involved in many important physiological processes such as digestive, cellular and the synthesis of hormones and although it is full of negative connotations linked to poor diet and obesity, the truth is that is an important element for our body; the fundamental thing is to know how it functions and the effects of high cholesterol in your health.
Even when the liver produces the cholesterol needed for our well-being, additional amounts are received in our organism through food, particularly in a saturated and trans fats diet; a significant increased of this substance is especially detrimental to our health as it is one of the main causes of heart attack and strokes.
Diet to Lower High Cholesterol
One of the main factors to control and lower cholesterol levels is to maintain a healthy diet, which at the same time will help you to lose weight and feel better physically and emotionally. In order to achieve this, you need to improve the diet with an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in nutrients, fiber and healthy fat.
Making small changes in your everyday routine are needed to reduce bad cholesterol or LDL as it accumlates in the arteries and reduce the movement of oxygen in the blood, making the heart and brain work harder.
- Reduce consumption of animal fats:
You must reduce the consumption of read meat, pork, lamb, sausage and visceras as this part of the animal contain more cholesterol; if possible try to consume lean meats as well as oily fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon.
Whole milk or its derivatives contain high amounts of cholesterol, so it is better to drink skimmed milk or eating products made with non-fat milk.
It is also advisable to eat more foods with unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) like fish, chicken and vegetable oils such as olive and seed (corn, sunflower).
- Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables:
They are rich in fiber; a diet rich in vegetables and fruit prevents constipation and helps to remove cholesterol found in the colon avoiding to be reabsorbed by the body.
Other foods rich in fiber are whole grains , cereals, rice, beans, pasta and starchy vegetables; these are needed for the intestinal transit and provide the proteins and fat without resorting to animal fats.
- Substitute salt with herbs.
Excess of salt is halmful to our heart and arteries; try to replace with with herbs as they provide additional benefits to our health.
- Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can have a double effect, on one hand it can increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) or may be harmful by increasing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). This effect depends on the amount of alcohol consumption; one glass of wine a day is all you need for good health.
Exercise to Lower High Cholesterol
Exercise is favourable to combat many diseases but it can be particular beneficial to lower the bad or low intensity cholesterol.
Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. are highly recommended. The intensity and duration of exercise will vary from person to person but a 30 minutes session three times a week is the minimum for optimum health.
In conclusion; t is very important to monitor your blood cholesterol levels, particularly if you are 40 years old, have blood pressure, overweight or have a first degree relative who has had heart disease. A blood test is sufficent to evaluate the amount of this substance and it should be reviewed at least every five years.
The success in lowering your cholesterol levels is the combination of a healthy eating and a moderate physical activity,