More often than not we hear people around us talk about high cholesterol and how the doctor said this or the doctor said that. For those who haven’t really done any further research, cholesterol is basically a fat-like, waxy substance that the body needs to function effectively. It is naturally present and spread across various parts of the body, including the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, liver and intestines.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Naturally, the body uses cholesterol to produce various hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help in the digestion of fat. Cholesterol level can be high due to a number of reasons.
Diet – The excess intake of saturated and trans fat leads to an increase in cholesterol level. Saturated fat is mostly found in foods that come from animals e.g. meat, whole milk, butter, cheese and egg yolk. While trans fat is mostly generated from packaged and fast foods.
Family History – High cholesterol can be passed from generation to generation.Having a family history of high cholesterol makes most or all members of the family most likely prone to also be affected by the condition sooner or later.
Cigarette – Frequent smoking increases the risk of coronary artery disease in people who have high cholesterol and other diseases that may increase the risk of heart disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Cigarette smoking basically lowers the good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein – HDL) in the body. Studies have shown that HDL level goes up soon after a person quits smoking.
Weight – Being overweight decreases the good cholesterol (HDL) in the body and increases the risk of heart disease. The more a person weighs, the higher the cholesterol level.
Age and Gender – As both genders get older, cholesterol levels get higher. In women, before the age of menopause, cholesterol levels get lower than men of the same age. After menopause, it begins to rise.
Cholesterol Lowering Tips
Regular exercise can help in the increase of cholesterol level because moderate physical activity can help raise HDL (good cholesterol), which is the good cholesterol. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended. Engaging in activities like swimming, biking, walking and any other form of sport can be of great help. Research study claims that cholesterol level is reduced by at least 10-15 percent after a month of regular exercise.
- High Fiber Foods – Oatmeal, Oat bran, beans
- Whole grain – Whole wheat bread
- Lean Meat – White meat of chicken, turkey, leaner cuts of beef and pork
- Fatty fish(High omega-3 fatty acids) – Salmon, Mackerel ,Sardines
- Nuts – Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts
- Fruits and vegetables – Avocados, Cucumber
- Tea – Green and black tea
- Oil – Olive oil, soya oil