Heart diseases have become the primary cause of death across the world. Doctors recommend medications to lower your cholesterol to reduce the risk of various heart conditions. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your body. It’s a necessary component of cell membranes and other body parts, but if too much cholesterol is circulating, it can adversely affect your health. If you’re trying to control your cholesterol, you might wonder what causes high cholesterol and how to lower yours. The answer is not as simple as “eat less saturated fat,” but several other factors affect your cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that lifestyle changes alone can reduce your cholesterol by 40%. And you may not have to depend on any medications if you adapt to a lifestyle that helps reduce your cholesterol. To help you keep your cholesterol in check, here are some important things you should know.
It’s all easy to say stop eating burgers and drinking soda, but when it comes to dieting, you need to watch out for certain hidden habits that might interfere with your cholesterol reduction goals.
Many people assume that eating less fat will reduce the amount of harmful cholesterol and maintain good cholesterol in their bodies. But since the ratio between these two types of cholesterol is more important to heart disease risk than either one alone, reducing fat intake may not necessarily reduce your risk of heart disease.
Follow these healthy eating habits to reduce your cholesterol level;
- If you want to improve your lipid profile, replace saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources include olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and canola oil.
- Eating walnuts, flaxseeds, and fatty types of fish can help raise your HDL.
- Cut all added sugar and sweetened beverages from your diet. Always read the labels of food products to avoid hidden sugars.
- A diet containing plenty of soluble fiber from barley, beans, lentils, oats, and fruits will help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Fruits, vegetables, red wine, tea, and dark chocolate all contain antioxidants that can boost HDL levels.
When you combine all these factors, the Mediterranean diet emerges as an excellent approach to lowering LDL and raising HDL. Experts agree that it significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.
Sedentary behavior is anything you do that uses up less than 1.5 calories per hour. Spending too much time sitting around—such as watching TV or using a computer—is known to be associated with increased cholesterol levels and heart disease.
A study found that spending a lot of time in front of a screen is linked with lower levels of “good” cholesterol. The researchers discovered that people who watched TV or used a computer for four hours or more during their days off had lower HDL cholesterol levels than those who spent less time doing these things.
Hence, having an active lifestyle and following a healthy diet can help you maintain your cholesterol levels.
Smoking affects more than just your lungs—it can also lead to cardiovascular problems. Several clinical studies have shown that cigarette smokers tend to have a less healthy cholesterol profile than non-smokers, with higher total cholesterol levels and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Cigarettes are filled with chemicals, including acrolein, a yellow and foul-smelling vapor emitted when plants burn. Acrolein is readily absorbed through the lungs and into your bloodstream, where it can cause damage by preventing HDL from doing its job of removing LDL from your arteries and transporting it to your liver.
Smoking and high cholesterol are a terrible combination for your heart. Quit smoking to reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
Excess Alcohol Consumption
Suppose you enjoy an occasional glass of wine or beer, good news! Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, which is a good thing. But the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol to anyone who doesn’t already drink.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high triglycerides, especially when combined with a high-fat, high-calorie meal. Heavy drinkers might have a hard time metabolizing triglycerides. Studies show that excess alcohol increases fat levels in the liver, and this means that people who consume too much booze run the risk of building up cholesterol in their bodies. Drinking more than two drinks a day for women and three drinks a day for men puts you at risk of heart problems.
It has been seen that people who reported being more stressed at work were more likely to have high cholesterol. This could be because the body produces a hormone called cortisol in response to stress. Long-term exposure to higher levels of cortisol may be the mechanism behind how stress can boost cholesterol.
Stress, whether it’s short-term or long-term, can harm your health and cholesterol. If you take measures to reduce stress over time, you are more likely to avoid cholesterol problems.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it can be overwhelming for some people. Simple ways to reduce stress include cutting out a few responsibilities and exercising more. A psychologist can help you manage stress by developing new coping skills.
Some people find that consuming curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, helps them reduce the amount of stress naturally.
Observing and maintaining these habits consciously is crucial to keeping a healthy heart and lowering your cholesterol. If you are suffering from high cholesterol but watching your diet isn’t helping, then there’s consider taking medication. However, the best thing to do is, along with medications, try to make lifestyle changes to manage it naturally while keeping your heart healthy. Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a writer who helps her readers live healthier and happier lives.
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