Over the years, the problems related to high cholesterol have seen a significant rise. One of the significant reasons for that is the lack of information and awareness. People fail to realise how important their lifestyle and nutrition have become in this modern age. With the increase in popularity of fast and processed foods, high cholesterol levels have become a common health issue.
Cholesterol is a lipid or fat molecule present in the blood. It is essential for building healthy cells, vitamins, and other hormones in your body. It can be differentiated into two types, i.e. HDL – High-Density Lipoprotein, commonly known as good cholesterol and LDL – Low-Density Lipoprotein, widely known as bad cholesterol.
Primarily, we procure cholesterol in our body in two ways: producing it through the liver and acquiring it from the different types of food daily. Therefore, your meals and the kind of lifestyle you lead play a significant role in your cholesterol balance. Hence, you can avoid most of the issues relating to cholesterol with a balanced diet and sufficient amounts of physical activity.
What is Good Cholesterol?
HDL cholesterol, primarily known as good cholesterol, is health-friendly as it helps us combat bad cholesterol. Furthermore, it aids in getting rid of LDL through the process of excretion. LDL affects your body by sticking on the inside of your artery walls, hindering the bloodstream flow towards the heart. Whereas the good cholesterol flowing in our blood helps remove bad cholesterol. As a result, our bodies need an adequate amount of HDL to maintain a healthy balance.
Your liver generally secretes all of the necessary cholesterol required by your body in sufficient amounts. You can obtain the rest through food sources. When the bad cholesterol is in abundance, the good cholesterol tries to absorb as much LDL it can and then takes it back to the liver, whereafter it discards out of the body through excretion.
Your body can produce sufficient amounts of required cholesterol. The cholesterol you obtain through your meals upsets the balance of good and bad cholesterol in the body. With changes in your diet and lifestyle, you can appropriately increase levels of good HDL cholesterol and reduce levels of bad LDL cholesterol without needing heavy medication in most cases.
Foods that will Boost Good Cholesterol
Several foods and beverages provide you with a sure shot way to boost your healthy cholesterol. These foods range from fruits and berries to fatty fish and soy. All such foods offer health benefits related to cholesterol and may also help improve your lifestyle in more ways than one.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the miracle drink that we all find ways to avoid in our day to day life. Surveys show that most people living in urban areas consume about 20% less water than they should. Water plays a crucial role in helping your excretion system and thus plays a significant role in assisting good cholesterol in doing its work. Experts advise that those with cholesterol problems should drink 4-5 litres of water every day. Not only will this assist in reducing inflammation, but it will also improve blood flow and decrease blood vessel tension.
Oatmeal is one of the most beneficial foods for improving your cholesterol levels. It helps a person lose weight and promotes a healthy gut due to its fibre content. The fibre in oatmeal helps prevent LDL cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. Most of it is a soluble fibre that comes in the form of beta-glucan. Studies show that consuming three grams of beta-glucan helps improve heart health.
Fruits and Berries
Fruits and berries are excellent sources of dietary fibre and antioxidants and can be an excellent replacement for other harmful snacks and can thereby improve HDL levels.
Blueberries: Blueberries are high in anthocyanins, the phytochemical that gives the fruit its dark blue colour. They are essential for general heart health by improving anti-inflammatory pathways and boosting HDL cholesterol levels. According to one study, ingesting blueberries in conjunction with exercise can increase HDL levels even more significantly than exercising alone.Avocado: Avocados are perfect for a heart-healthy lifestyle due to their high fibre and potassium content, as well as their abundance of healthy monounsaturated fat. According to research, the presence of monounsaturated fats, specifically from avocados, has been linked to an increase in HDL cholesterol and decreases in total cholesterol, LDL particles, and triglycerides.Dates: Added sugar is bad for your cardiovascular health and your waistlines. According to one study, individuals who consume the most added sugars have considerably lower HDL levels. Consider substituting sugar with dates when baking baked goods like cookies and cakes to reduce added sugar intake and enhance HDL levels.Raspberries: Raspberries are abundant in fibre, which improves your cholesterol profile, increases HDL levels and promotes satiety and weight reduction. They are a versatile addition to your diet because they may be eaten fresh, frozen, in a smoothie, or on their own.
Foods Rich in Omega-3s
The bulk of the human body’s lipids requirements is synthesised from other fats or essential elements. However, omega-3 fatty acids do not fall into this category.
Omega-3s are essential fats that the body cannot manufacture. Hence, we get it from food sources. They are an integral component of cell membranes throughout the body, determining how cell receptors in these membranes function. They serve as a source of hormones that control blood coagulation, artery wall contraction and relaxation, and inflammation. Due to this they are able to help control blood cholesterol levels.
Some of the healthy foods rich in omega3 are:
Salmon: Fish is a high-protein, low-fat substitute for red meat. Good unsaturated fats present in fish like salmon help lower cholesterol levels. It contains the all-powerful omega-3 fatty acids, one of the most efficient and healthy fatty acids that can help you obtain a significant portion of good cholesterol.Flaxseeds: One of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory fat is flaxseed. Flaxseed supplementation has been shown to enhance HDL levels in animal models. That is why cardiologists and nutritionists advocate it as part of a healthy diet. The ground version of this seed is better for the intestines to absorb the vitamins and minerals it supplies.Walnuts: Walnuts have a lot of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in them. They also contain significant quantities of manganese and copper. According to various studies, walnuts help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.
Studies suggest that green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage bind to bile acids. The bile acid-binding capacity of the green leafy vegetables makes them effective in controlling cholesterol levels in your body. Furthermore, bile acid-binding potential also helps lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
We are aware of green tea’s benefits as a weight loss solution. However, green tea’s catechins (an antioxidant) reduce LDL and overall cholesterol concentrations. In addition, a detailed study proves that individuals who had five cups of green tea daily were 26% less likely than non-tea drinkers to die of a heart attack or stroke.
Olive oil is rich in an anti-inflammatory compound, oleic acid. It helps boost HDL cholesterol levels and lowers the risk for heart diseases. Therefore, olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. As per research, another compound called Elenolide in olive oils helps prevent high blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. You can use olive oil for salad dressing, cooking or drizzling over dishes.
What Affects Good Cholesterol Levels?
The lifestyle that a person leads has a massive impact on their cholesterol balance. Hence we must be aware of things that may affect good cholesterol levels over time. Being mindful of the situation in your body is necessary as precautionary procedures have developed significantly, helping us prevent severe results.
If you lead a healthy and active lifestyle that includes a moderate amount of physical activity along with proper nutrition, it affects your HDL levels positively. Indulging in activities like alcoholism and smoking can lead to a decline in HDL levels and should be avoided as far as possible. Also, maintaining a healthy weight can improve good cholesterol production in your body.
Along with the things mentioned above, gender, age, and menopause may also affect cholesterol levels, varying from person to person. Also, genes may play a part in your HDL levels. For example, if your family has suffered from cholesterol issues through the years, you might be more susceptible to such problems.
Necessary Precautions you can take to avoid having High Cholesterol Levels
Adults over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels checked every five years at least. It allows you and your doctor to respond sooner if your levels begin to climb. In addition, people with a family history of cholesterol issues and other lifestyle diseases should have checkups more frequently.
2. Having a Balanced Diet
Saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol can elevate cholesterol levels. It is necessary to avoid them. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and water-soluble fibre lower cholesterol. Hence, you should incorporate them into your meals. Also, try to include a healthy amount of water intake daily to have fewer issues like bloating and indigestion.
3. Exercise and Weight Management
Along with a good diet, staying fit, and maintaining an average weight for your height, can help you reduce your cardiovascular risks by lowering your chances of other contributory health issues such as obesity and diabetes. If you’re overweight, decreasing just 5 to 10% of your body weight will considerably reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Currently, millions of individuals throughout the world are suffering from cholesterol problems. Most of them aren’t even conscious of the gravity of their predicament, let alone that one exists. It is important to be aware of potentially dangerous circumstances that might lead to serious, if not fatal, consequences in the long run. It will help if you prevent cholesterol and other disorders. You must take steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes eating well and being physically active.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What reduces cholesterol quickly?
A. Since cholesterol buildups happen over a period of time, they also do not decrease very rapidly. You need to combine a healthy eating plan with a good amount of regular exercise. Together they frequently perform a very effective job in lowering cholesterol levels in a relatively short length of time.
Q. Are bananas good for cholesterol?
A. Bananas have a good amount of fibre and are rich in potassium. They can help decrease cholesterol and blood pressure.
Q. Can I drink coffee if I have high cholesterol?
A. Drinking coffee won’t directly impact your cholesterol. However, it can help other factors in doing so such as decreasing your bile acids which are needed to control cholesterol levels. Hence, you should consume it in moderation.
Q. Is peanut butter good for cholesterol?
A. Peanut butter is safe to consume when you have high cholesterol, as long as it doesn’t have added sugars, oils and preservatives. You can only consume it in recommended quantities. Eaten in excess, it might lead to artery-clogging atherosclerosis.
Q. What are high cholesterol foods to avoid?
A. You should avoid unhealthy food items like processed fats often found in take-away and fast foods at all costs. You should also limit the consumption of coconut oil and butter. Other high cholesterol foods include full-fat dairy, red meat, baked goods and sweets.
Q. Does mutton increase cholesterol?
A. Mutton has a lot of fat. However, eating it in moderation, like once or twice a month, would not create any complications. On the other hand, people who consume such red meat regularly may run into some cholesterol issues.
Q. What meat is best for your heart?
A. For enhanced heart health, any lean meat may be advised. However, it will help to prioritise seafood for optimal effects and favour fish such as salmon.
Q. Does walking make the heart stronger?
A. Yes, any physical activity can contribute to better heart health. It prevents the congestion caused by bad cholesterol. In addition, it pumps up your heart rate and strengthens and increases blood circulation.