Tips to Reduce Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol levels  (also known as hypercholesterolemia) are known to be common problems with age and are one of the major reasons for causing health problems such as strokes, heart attacks and diabetes. High levels in the body can severely damage organs in the body.

Food choices, exercise and even weight control are some ways by which you can lower your cholesterol levels. There are also medications that can be prescribed to help lower your cholesterol levels, but such a solution should be your last resort! 

This is because these medications will upset the body’s natural coping style which may lead to future health problems. Some of the safe ways by which you can lower your cholesterol levels include:  

1)     Consume ‘heart-healthy’ foods! Heart-healthy foods that are rich in nutrients, fibres and healthy fats. In short, they promote good health for your heart. It is important to follow a balanced diet that has plenty of whole grains, nuts, vegetables and legumes.

High-calorie foods, nutrient-poor foods and beverages should be avoided. In such diets, it is important to choose healthy (good) fats over the bad (unhealthy) ones. This will only help raise your HDL (high-density lipoproteins) levels and lower your LDL (low-density lipoproteins).

2)     Eliminate trans fats from your diet:  Trans fats are known for increasing the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the body, and even lowering the HDL (good cholesterol) levels. It is important to prevent this by avoiding any food substances that contain them.

3)     Include Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet: Known to be a type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids are synonymous with cholesterol reduction. Omega-3 acids are of three different types: icosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA. 

While most of Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish and shellfish (i.e. EPA & DHA), omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in flaxseeds, chiaseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts (i.e. plant sources- ALA) . Besides this, there are supplements such as fish oil, krill oil, flaxseed oil and algal oil that provide omega-3 fatty acids.

4)     Increase Soluble Fibre in Diet: Fibre plays a very important role in your diet. It is a complex carbohydrate, which cannot be broken down by the body and can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, cereals, nuts and even legumes such as lentils, dried beans and peas.

Fibres are known to be of two types: - soluble and insoluble, although most foods contain both. 

 Insoluble fibre is known to speed up the movement of food through the intestines and even promote regularity. It can be found in whole-wheat grain foods such as many vegetables,  whole-grain foods such as wheat bran and even fruits with their skin on.

On the other hand, soluble fibre which is known as vicous fibre dissolves when mixed with water, turning it into a gel-like substance that slows down the entire movement of food through the small intestine. 

Some of the foods that are sources of soluble fibre include peas, oats, apples and citrus fruits. Plenty of studies have shown that soluble fibre helps to lower cholesterol. This is because it reduces the amount of bile that is re-absorbed in the intestines. Some foods rich in soluble fibre are oatmeal and oat bran.

5)     Include magnesium-rich foods in your diet: A mineral crucial for the functioning of the body, magnesium helps the body to function properly, help the immune system, keeps the bones strong and the heart rhythm steady. Foods that are high in magnesium are known to help prevent health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and different types of  cancer. 
        It is an anti-inflammatory agent that helps to reduce cholesterol levels as well. This is because it increases the HDL levels in the body. Some important foods you should includein your diet include spinach, almonds, avacado, black beans, figs, bananas, beet greens and pumpkin seeds.

6)     Exercise Regularly: There is nothing that can beat the magic of exercising. Your body begins to produce chemicals in the body known as endorphons and Enzymes are also created, lowering the LDL levels in the body. In fact, by exercising your body starts to expel LDL from the body. It is very important to combine aerobic (cardio) and resistance training. This can also help in fat loss, weight loss and even cardiorespiratory fitness. This should ideally be 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous/intense workouts, three to four times a week. So, if you havent started exercising yet,  There’s no perfect time. You just have to start.