Cholesterol is a type of fat present in the blood, like fat cholesterol does not dissolve in water. Instead, its transport in the body which depends on the molecules called lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol, fat and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood.
The cholesterol comes in our blood from two sources - The foods we eat and our liver. The liver makes all the cholesterol it needs.
The remainder of the cholesterol in our body comes from foods derived from animals i.e. meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products all contain cholesterol called dietary cholesterol.
Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese.
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What do my cholesterol numbers mean?
Cholesterol numbers are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
Triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol, but they are part of a lipoprotein panel. A normal triglyceride level is below 150 mg/dL.
Role Of Cholesterol In Our Body
Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins -
1. LDL (low-density lipo protein) is sometimes called the "bad" cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in our arteries.
2. HDL ( High- density lipo protein ) is sometimes called the "good" cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from other parts of our body back to your liver. Then our liver removes the cholesterol from our body.
3. VLDL ( Very low density lipo protein ) is also called a "bad" cholesterol because it too contributes to the buildup of plaque in our arteries. But VLDL and LDL are different; VLDL mainly carries triglycerides and LDL mainly carries cholesterol.
Experts believe that HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver besides,
HDL cholesterol does not completely eliminate LDL cholesterol. Only one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL.
What happens if we have excess cholesterol - If we have too much cholesterol in our blood, it can stick to the walls of our arteries and narrow or even block them. This puts us at risk for coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke and other heart diseases. So we need to protect our nerves and make healthy cells and hormones.
How To Lower Cholesterol ?
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL.
1. Healthy eating
A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that encourages us to choose a variety of nutritious soluble fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans,okras,nuts,egg plants, lean meats and fiber rich foods.
Besides, its necessary to consume foods rich in vitamin k2 regularly like papaya, kiwi, cantaloupe, and other fruits rich in vitamin C and protein like egg yolk, chicken liver, butter and cheese. Vitamin k2 breaks down atherosclerosis i.e. plaque deposits of calcium, fatty substances and scar tissue accumulation in the arteries.
2. Weight Loss
Weight management i.e. losing weight can help lower our LDL (bad) cholesterol. This is especially important for people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that includes high triglyceride levels, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
(Triglyceride level means another class of fat found in the bloodstream).
Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise our LDL cholesterol and lower our HDL cholesterol. When a person faces stress, they may experience hemoconcentration. This causes the blood to lose fluid. The components of the blood, including cholesterol, become more concentrated. This could be one way in which stress leads to higher cholesterol levels.
4. Quitting smoking and reduce consumption of alcohol
Quitting smoking can raise HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from our arteries, having more HDL can help to lower our LDL cholesterol. Besides, people with the highest amounts of alcohol intake have the highest HDL cholesterol compared with those who never drink hard liquor. So its also necessary to reduce consumption of alcohol.
5. Physical Activities
Everyone should get regular physical activity (30 minutes on most, if not all, days).
Exercise is a win-win for heart health. It increases the production and action of several enzymes that function to enhance the reverse cholesterol transport system. Not only does it improve physical fitness and help combat obesity, but it also reduces harmful LDL and increases beneficial HDL
In one study, twelve weeks of combined aerobic and resistance exercise reduced the especially harmful oxidized LDL in 20 overweight women.
Foods/drinks to include in our daily routine to lower cholesterol.
Consumption of Green Tea
Green tea is a rich source of polyphenols. It has the highest concentration of polyphenols associated with not only lowering LDL cholesterol but also increasing HDL Cholesterol.
Eat Fenugreek seeds daily
Methi seeds are rich in Vitamin E and possess antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
Saponins found in fenugreek help remove cholesterol from the body and its fibre helps reduce the synthesis in the liver. So 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds daily is recommended.
Amla (Indian gooseberry )
It is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C and phenolic compounds in addition to minerals and amino acids. Daily intake of amla not only reduces bad cholesterol levels but also reduces the damage due to oxidation. One to two amla fruits can be consumed daily.
It is commonly used in Indian cooking and its known for its health enhancing properties . It is made up of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and organosulfur compounds such as allicin, ajoene, s-allylcysteine, s-ethylcysteine, and diallylsulfide. A number of scientific studies have proven garlic to be effective in reducing total and LDL cholesterol significantly. Consuming 1/2 to 1 garlic clove daily could reduce your cholesterol level by up to 9%.
Turmeric helps in cutting down the plaque or cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries. So add turmeric to curries or drink turmeric milk before sleeping to help in reducing bad cholesterol. The best way though is to have half a teaspoon of turmeric with warm water first thing in the morning.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals and helps us maintain cholesterol. The antioxidants that are present in honey don't let cholesterol move out of the blood. They restrict the entry of cholesterol into the lining of the blood vessels. So its recommended to consume one teaspoon honey to a glass of warm water.
Fish with omega-3 fatty acids
Salmon, tuna, mackerel are some of the fishes and other foods like almonds, avocado have a higher presence of omega-3 fatty acids that have deadly combination of nutrients present in fish with omega-3 fatty acids to reduce cholesterol.
Foods/drinks to avoid in our daily routine to lower cholesterol.
#1 Avoid junk food
Adopt Grandma's home remedies by avoiding as far as reasonably practical, baked foods like pies, pizzas, cakes, pastries, and doughnuts. And these junk food stuffs can be substituted with red meats and fish like sardines, albacore tuna, rohu, catla, halibut, pabda, herring, and salmon that have omega-3 fats. This would help also help in substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats.
#2 Moderate intake of Egg
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods we can eat. But on flip side they also happen to be high in cholesterol, with one large egg delivering 211 mg of cholesterol, or 70% of the RDI
People often avoid eggs out of fear that they may cause cholesterol to skyrocket.
However, research shows that eggs don’t negatively impact cholesterol levels and that eating whole eggs can lead to increases in heart-protective HDL. Hence, eating 1–3 eggs per day is perfectly safe for healthy people
#3 Avoid fried food
Fried foods such as deep-fried meats and cheese sticks are high-cholesterol and should be avoided whenever possible.
That’s because they’re loaded with calories and can contain trans fats, which increase cholesterol leading to heart disease risks
#4 Say no to processes food
Processed meats such as sausages, bacon and hot dogs, are high-cholesterol foods. This eventually leads to high cholesterol resulting in increased rates of heart diseases.
#5 Cut down sugary food
Desserts like cookies, cakes, ice cream, pastries and other sweets are unhealthy foods that tend to be high in cholesterol as they have added sugars, unhealthy fats and calories.
Frequently indulging in these foods can negatively impact overall health and lead to obesity. Obesity is worst for controlling cholesterol.
When it comes to investing money we create a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your money in one basket. The same holds true for our eating habits to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two
Besides, lowering our cholesterol doesn’t mean going it alone. Our primary care doctor is a helpful partner along your journey. Doctor can work with us to create an action plan to combine diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes to help us lower and manage our cholesterol.