Cholesterol is waxy blood fat needed by the body for building cell walls, making bile acids, vitamin D and certain hormones like testosterone, estrogen etc. Without cholesterol, our body will not function properly.
Cholesterol in the body comes from two major sources. Our body makes cholesterol, but it also comes from food items like eggs (yolks), red meat, milk cream etc. Our body balances the cholesterol it makes with the cholesterol it gets from the food we eat. If more cholesterol is coming from the food, body reduces its production in the liver, which is the body’s major cholesterol-producing organ. The liver produces 80 per cent of the blood cholesterol.But high dietary fat, especially saturated fat and more particularly trans-fat can disturb this balance and there may be a rise in your blood cholesterol.
The cholesterol story becomes complex when its level in the blood rises due to several reasons or it is deposited in the wrong places like the inner walls of coronary arteries. According to the Framingham Heart Study, when cholesterol is deposited inside the walls of the heart's coronary arteries, which are the main suppliers of blood to the heart's own muscle tissue, coronary heart disease results. There it contributes to the formation of fatty, toughened blockages called plaque. This buildup of plaque is variously called arteriosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, and atherosclerosis.
It is possible that the plaque may break off from the inner walls of the arteries and form clots that block the flow of blood. Although blocks can form anywhere in the body, but when the blocks occur in the arteries of the heart, it may result in a heart attack. When the blood circulation to the brain is blocked a stroke may result.
There are several categories of blood lipids: LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and triglycerides. LDL stands for “low density lipoprotein” and HDL stands for “high density lipoprotein”. These are technical terms and we need not go into details. All we need to know is that LDL increases disease risk and HDL decreases it. High levels of triglycerides are also responsible for increasing disease risk.
In the 1995 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that by lowering blood cholesterol levels by diet and medication reduced the risk of heart attack in middle-aged men with elevated cholesterol by nearly 30 percent.
One major study published in 1995 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that lowering blood cholesterol levels by diet and medication reduced the risk of heart attack in middle-aged men with elevated cholesterol by about 30 percent
Blood cholesterol is measured in mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) For minimizing the risk of heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), ensure that your total blood cholesterol is kept below 200 mg/dl, an HDL-cholesterol level of more than 35 mg/dl and LDL-cholesterol level of less than 130 mg/dl.
Green tea has antioxidants which can prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Soluble fiber is helpful in lowering LDL and total; cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lentils, legumes, fenugreek seeds and most unprocessed natural food items are rich sources of fiber.
Losing body fat by exercising and diet control can significantly lower cholesterol levels. But this fat loss should be slow and healthy. How to achieve that? Go here.
The fats and oils which are solid at room temperature should be avoided. These include most animal fats except fish oils. Red meat, egg yolks, butter, cream, cheese etc. are rich sources of saturated fats and cholesterol. Replace animal fats with plant oils. Plant based oils (except tropical oils like coconut oil) do not have saturated fats. Intake of saturated fats in your diet should be less than 10% of your total calories.
Trans-fats are the worst kind of fats available today as far as rise in cholesterol levels and heart health is concerned. Avoid baked and fried items, biscuits, chips, crackers, cookies, French fries, doughnuts and some kinds of noodles (Look for labels displaying trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils). Avoid fast food like pizzas, burgers etc.
Soy (or soyabean) has highest percentage of protein but no saturated, trans fat or cholesterol. Soy has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Also it has other phytonutrients that boost your health and help lower the risk of some cancers including breast cancer.
Garlic has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Garlic also brings down high blood pressure.
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