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15 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Which Is Important to Know for Everyone

I am Aabis Ashfaq from Pakistan. I am studying in Pharm-D (Doctor of Pharmacy) at the University of Lahore.

Why High Blood Cholesterol Is Dangerous

Cholesterol is an organic substance created by the liver and found in all human cells. Blood cholesterol helps build cells, produce certain substances, including cholesterol itself, and produce hormones.

Cholesterol is also found in some foods such as cheese, eggs, butter, cream, and other dairy products.

Too much cholesterol can lead to high blood cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia, which poses a danger to cardiovascular health.

A diagnosis of high cholesterol may be classified as either primary or secondary cholesterol. Direct cholesterol occurs when conditions within the body increase the production of cholesterol without affecting its production by the liver. This condition is often hereditary but can result from uncontrolled diabetes or obesity, untreated thyroid disorder, kidney disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or excessive alcohol consumption.

Secondary cholesterol is caused by the body's inability to process cholesterol properly. This condition often arises from uncontrolled diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, hormone imbalances, and drug side effects.

High cholesterol may also be a symptom of another health problem that needs treatment.

15 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

Healthy cholesterol levels are important to maintain good heart health. High cholesterol has been linked with coronary artery disease (CAD) and atherosclerosis, both of which can lead to a cardiac event like a heart attack. Many factors contribute to cholesterol level, including diet, exercise, weight, medications, family history, and more. Therefore lifestyle changes are key to keeping cholesterol in check. Here is how you can lower cholesterol levels without medication:

1) Portion control

Excess calories from any food source will increase cholesterol levels. For example, eating three eggs for breakfast rather than two could increase your LDL cholesterol level by eight percent; that's the bad kind of cholesterol that leads to plaque buildup in arteries causing narrowing or blockage of blood flow.

2) Consume more soluble fiber

Soluble fiber binds cholesterol in the digestive system and prevents cholesterol from being re-absorbed. This helps reduce cholesterol absorption. A good source of soluble fiber is oatmeal, which has cholesterol-lowering properties. Other sources include fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

3) Watch your sodium intake

For some people, a diet high in sodium can cause a temporary spike in cholesterol levels. People who have prehypertension or hypertension will want to be cautious with their sodium intake because it could spread their cholesterol levels. Eating fresh whole foods rather than processed items like canned soup will help keep sodium intake under control while maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

4) Find healthy fats

According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are cholesterol-lowering "good" fats that help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. These fats can be found in olive oil, peanut oil, avocadoes, nuts, and seeds. An excellent way to incorporate these cholesterol-lowering foods into your diet is by having avocado with lunch or adding ground flaxseed to your breakfast smoothie.

5) Get enough exercise

Regular cardiovascular workouts help your heart muscle work more efficiently, which aids healthy cholesterol levels. Aerobic activity also increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) while decreasing the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Perform 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times per week for maximum benefits on cholesterol levels.

6) Quit smoking

Smoking cigarettes increases cholesterol because it constricts the arteries restricting blood flow. Less blood flow means cholesterol isn't being broken down efficiently, leading to cholesterol levels accumulating in the body. Quitting smoking will not only lower cholesterol but also improve overall health and sense of well-being. If you want tips on leaving, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for advice and support quitting smoking.

7) Eat more fiber

People who eat high fiber diets tend to have cholesterol levels 10 percent lower than people who don't eat enough fiber. Certain foods rich in soluble fibers such as oats and apples can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 8 - 21 percent. If you enjoy eating oatmeal for breakfast, try adding some cholesterol-lowering blueberries the next time you make a bowl.

8) Eat more garlic

Garlic is a cholesterol-lowering superfood that can help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Garlic lowers cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme called HMG CoA Reductase, which creates cholesterol within the body. Allicin, a compound found in garlic, also has antioxidant properties to help protect cholesterol from oxidation. Preparing garlic in oil or butter will deliver optimal health benefits since it allows the compounds in garlic to seep into food when heated.

9) Use olive oil instead of butter

Butter is full-fat dairy, and it's high in cholesterol. If you are looking to cholesterol levels, replace butter with olive oil when cooking so you can reduce cholesterol intake without having to cut back on taste.

10) Limit animal fats

Limit your cholesterol intake by eating leaner cuts of meat and switching to poultry because it has less cholesterol than beef or pork. Although cholesterol isn't an issue for some people, it is essential to monitor cholesterol intake from certain sources like red meat and full fat dairy products if you're among the population with high cholesterol. Animal fats are also high in saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease if past moderation.

11) Eat more fiber

A low fiber diet is linked with higher LDL cholesterol levels, while a high fiber diet reduces LDL cholesterol levels. Fiber binds cholesterol in the digestive system allowing it to be excreted out of the body. Apples, pears, oatmeal, and dried beans are all high in soluble fiber that can bind to cholesterol. You can also get soluble fibers from certain types of alcohol like vodka or tequila. However, this should only be used as a cholesterol-lowering measure if cholesterol levels are already too high since alcohol has its own set of health problems associated with overconsumption.

12) Keep your weight under control

Being obese is linked with cholesterol issues because fat cells produce chemicals that interfere with cholesterol regulation. People who maintain a healthy weight have lower LDL cholesterol levels than overweight or obese individuals. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps cholesterol levels because it reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, a cholesterol-raising disorder.

13) Reduce stress regularly

Being under extreme amounts of stress for long periods of time can raise cholesterol levels by inhibiting cholesterol regulation. The cortisol hormone, also known as the "stress" hormone, causes LDL cholesterol to be stored in the liver rather than broken down by bile acids through an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. To reduce your body's cortisol levels, start exercising regularly and learn relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. If you are looking for something less time-consuming, consider trying biofeedback. This technique gives instant feedback whenever the mind starts thinking stressful thoughts, allowing people to rewire their brains to think more positively quickly.

14) Avoid cholesterol medication if possible

Cholesterol-lowering medications work by blocking cholesterol from being absorbed in the small intestine or reducing cholesterol production in the liver. If cholesterol levels are within a normal range, taking cholesterol medication can be a waste of money since most cholesterol issues are caused by diet and lifestyle factors that cholesterol meds don't address. Make sure you consult with your doctor before making any decisions about cholesterol medication. However, suppose your cholesterol levels are too high. In that case, it's important not to ignore this since diets and exercise alone may not help reduce LDL cholesterol enough for people who have tried both without success. In some cases, low doses of cholesterol-reducing drugs used with dietary changes may prevent cholesterol levels from ever getting too high.

15) Get enough Vitamin D

Low cholesterol is linked with lower thyroid function, which is linked with low concentrations of vitamin D. Low cholesterol is also linked with depression. Cardiovascular disease, both of which are associated with low concentrations of Vitamin D. Studies show that people who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increase their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 20% when taking the drug alongside a regular diet but do not further increase or decrease diabetes risk if they exercise regularly or restrict calories to lose weight. Suppose your cholesterol levels are within the healthy range. In that case, you may want to inform your doctor about your interest in supplementing Vitamin D since cholesterol-reducing medications can cause cholesterol levels to rise. This is because cholesterol-reducing medications exert their cholesterol-lowering effects by decreasing vitamin D synthesis in the skin, which slows cholesterol removal from the body through bile acids.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Muhammad Aabis Ashfaq

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